Thursday, September 29, 2011

67. The Shanghai Express

The Shanghai Express
Yay!  A movie in English!  And it takes place in China and is really ethnocentric and just a tad racist.  Wait...

Marlene Dietrich may be one of my favorite actresses of all time.  I always appreciate actresses that aren't drop dead gorgeous.  They have to be successful by their talent and they have to carry themselves in a manner where they are really attractive to men.  I think Nicole Kidman and Joan Blondell do (or the latter case, did) that well.  This movie is about Marlene Dietrich and the plot, secondary characters, and scenery just seem immaterial when you watch this film.

I have always liked movies that take place on trains.  They are always romantic, mysterious, and dark.  My experiences on trains has always been rather underwhelming.  I think the trick is to get a sleeping car.  Anyway, a really good movie that will make you to head the Marlene Dietrich fan club.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

China banned the movie and demanded a world wide withdrawal.  The studio had to promise to never make a film about Chinese politics again.

This movie used 1000 extras.  I just automatically typed 1001 and had to correct myself.  Wow...

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

66. Scarface: Shame of the Nation

Scarface: Shame of the Nation

This is the movie everyone has already seen a hundred times.  So to continue with the repetitive theme, you can either look at Little Caesar or Public Enemy for a review for this movie.  My only comment would be that I have never seen the remake of this movie.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Howard Hughes directed this film.  I knew that from The Aviator.

Al Capone owned this movie.  Kind of missing the point, Al.

65. Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise

This was a wonderful movie.  I have never heard anyone talk about it, though.  I thought it was a lot better than It Happened One Night and that won five academy awards.  I should start a Trouble in Paradise awareness group.

This movie is about two thieves who meet each other and fall in love.  They decide to con an heiress out of her money.  Gustave plans to charm her...steal from her...and fall in love with her?!?!  Bring on the cookiness!

This film was also very edgy, particularly in its opening scene.  The words "Trouble in" show up in the bedroom.  They hover over the bed for a few moments then the word "Paradise" finally appears.  Quite risque.

If you are looking for something really profound, this is not the movie to watch.  It was light-hearted and fun, though, and I loved it.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Cary Grant was considered for the role.

Ernst Lubitsch was most famous for this film.  He was known for being elegant and expressive.

64. I Am a Fugitive From the Chain Gang

I Am a Fugitive From the Chain Gang

I recently watched the movie I Love You Phillip Morris.  It was kind of along the same lines of escaping, then returning to prison.  I only saw it because my boyfriend, Ewan McGregor, was in it.  The point I am badly making is that I watch a lot of prison movies.  This was the first, so it was interesting to see the birth of the genre that would eventually give me The Shawshank Redemption.

The title kind of gives away the plot of the movie.  It doesn't mention, however, how brutal the scenes about prison life are.  Hint: don't call a prison guard a skunk.

I feel the same way about this movie as I felt about Little Caesar.  So many cliches (that they invented) are packed into the film that is only semi-enjoyable.  I would have loved it if I say it when it came out, but now I am jaded.  There still is some interesting irony though.  Worth a watch.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This movie was based on the life on Robert E. Burns.  He visited the set but then decided the risk was to great.  This film led to the pardon of Burns, who was still on the lam when the film was released.

63. Boudu Sauve Des Eaux

Boudu Sauve Des Eaux
Boudu Saved from Drowning

I have to review like four movies after this since I am ahead so forgive me if I am a bit short.  This is another good French comedy.  Now that we are getting away from silent movies, there have been a lot less propaganda films and a lot more slapstick comedies.  I don't have a whole lot of complaints about that.

This movie is about a tramp who (spoiler alert!) is saved from drowning.  He strongly resembles Charlie Chaplin's character but I found Michel Simon a lot more charming.  He gets accepted into a nice bookseller's house but like in most comedies, the bookseller gets more than he bargained for!

This movie is very entertaining.  The dialogue is witty, the acting is excellent, and the plot is different enough to be really intiguing.  Very nice.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Why don't I just write the reviews ahead of time?

The guy on the bench is the assistant director.  I know that is not very interesting, but the trivia page on IMDb is not exactly overloaded with knowledge.

Available on YouTube but again for some reason I can't put it up. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

62. Love Me Tonight

Love Me Tonight

I watched this a week ago when I played hooky.  I got so much done and since this movie is so charming, it brightened my day even more.  I also had a bagel, coke, and cookie for lunch.  That was a fantastic day.

When we watch early gangster films, you can tell I am a bit lackadaisical.  This is because I really don't like modern mob movies, so it is hard for me to be enthustiatic about the birth of the genre.  I love musicals, however, so watching this was absolutely delightful.  The story isn't the strongest one that you will ever see, but the songs are wonderful.  They are song by an ensemble too so you don't have to worry about a bad vocalist ruining the movie for you (...ahem...42nd Street).  The song "Isn't it Romantic?" is one of the best musical numbers I have ever seen and believe me, I have seen a lot.  I liked Le Million a lot better than this one, though.  Still, even though this movie will not make you think in the slightest, it will be a fun and frivolous hour and a half.  Trust me.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This film spreads the misconception that Paris is a romantic, far off wonderland.  Do not be brainwashed!!

Very suggestive.  I am dreading the end of pre-Code days.

Isn't it the best scene ever?!  Wow, that was bad.  I have to go to sleep soon.

61. Vampyr


I keep watching horror films in September which is completely inappropriate.  I am sure all of October will be happy musicals.  IT"S ALL WRONG!

I was expected to get really freaked out by this film.  It is supposed to be like the scariest movie ever not to mention the director is one of my favorites, Carl Theodor Dreyer.  However, it was just kind of...meh.  I watching this on Netflix Instant, and it was an awful version.  I couldn't even hear the people speaking let alone understand the German words coming out of their mouths.  I also thought it would be a really interesting mystery.  The plot takes forever to get started and then you have to watch the awful acting.  Really a lose-lose situation.  It felt like a silent movie; there were even title cards.

Overall, it is a lot worse than you would expect.  It pratically blew out my speakers!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The dirty floor was made by smashing jam jars on the floor and waiting for insects to be attracted to the mess.

Cool use of shadows and camera angles.

No YouTube videos.  As we get to newer movies (and yes, 1932 is new to me right now) they are going to be harder to find.

60. La Chienne

La Chienne
The Bitch

Amazon has really been fucking with me lately.  I had to buy this movie and through no fault of my own (aka I didn't look closely at the product description), they sent me the Japanese version.  This movie is completely in French and my version only had Japanese subtitles.  If you have read my earlier posts, you probably heard me bragging about how I know French (roughly translated that sentence is vous probablement avez ecoute <bragging> de comment je sache francais; see?).  As you may have surmised, I had a hard time understanding this film.

But I got the gist of it!  I also followed along with the Wikipedia synopsis. I think an artist killed a prostitute and someone else got blamed for it.  I guess I liked it.  I am pretty sure it was pretty edgy (did I hear dormi avec moi?) and edginess is always appreciated.  I am also almost certain they didn't condemn any of the villianous acts committed.  They just kind of reported it, like Ovid.

RATING: ***-- (I am probably completely wrong about everything I just said)

Interesting Facts:

See?  There was a benefit to taking French.  Impratical, my ass!

Jean Renoir was Pierre-Auguste's son.

This is a really obscure film so no video, sorry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

59. M


This film will amaze, shock, and disturb you.

So this is the first movie about a serial killer.  Nowadays, there are thousands of movies about psycho killers and I was really interested to see what the first one looked like.  Of course, I was expecting cheesiness, tired techniques, and a storyline that was very safe.  Wow.  Just wow.

This film starts with the murder of a little girl.  Like in all good horror movies, what is not shown is even more disturbing than what is shown.  It then becomes one of those classics where you follow the stories of both the detectives and the killer.

Now, I have never taken a film class so I really can't tell you all the innovative techniques used (though there were a lot!).  I can identify the first use of a voiceover, the great character development, and the way the director would choose really carefully what to show and what not to show.  Don't be arrogant enough to believe that watching horror films from the 30s won't scare you.  I think my now wet pants will prove you wrong (just kidding; or am I?).

RATING:****- (just because I can't watch it again; too disturbing)

Interesting Facts:

The German language gets on my nerves.

I am watching Se7en with my sister whenever she visits next so I am exciting to compare the two.

Fritz Lang also did Metropolis which I really did not like.

Apparently Lang was a huge jerk and threw Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs.

Nazis banned this in 1934.

Lang cast real criminals for the last scene.

Peter Lorre and Fritz Lang both had Jewish heritage and fled Germany.  Lang's wife was a Nazi party member.  Another level of creepy gets added to the film.

MGM had a meeting where they discussed how they could make films more like M.

Available on YouTube:

58. Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Here it is!  The movie you have seen a million times before!  I just watched Little Caesar so I am getting these two really mixed up since I had seen this one awhile ago.

This is essentially the same film.  Gang war.  Brazen man.  Drive by shootings.  Grapefruit (okay so maybe that one is not as common).  I think gangster movies age a lot worse than silent films do.  There is really not a lot of directions that a gangster movie can go so they usually all choose the same path.  I was actually really bored.

If I had watched this before Little Caesar it would probably have a more favorable review but since this was the same regurgitated plot, I cannot be too kind.  Of course, I am exaggerating a bit.  There are some a few differences, but come on.  Let's have some variety here.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

I bet I could tell you the plot of Goodfellas without having seen it.

Feminist groups protested on the brutality after seeing the grapefruit scene.

Louis Brooks was offered the female lead.

57. City Lights

City Lights

Wow.  The last silent film on the list.  I used to whine all the time for these movies to end.  Of course, when things really end we never want them to.  I know I am being overly dramatic (I am allowed to watch silent films still after all) but I have had to say goodbye to a lot of things recently and it has been hard.  Rip off the band aid, Amanda, and let's review this bitch.

So the reactionary Charlie Chaplin insisted on still doing silent movies and ended up making AFI's  #11.  I didn't really like it.  I expected to be blown away because even some Chaplin haters liked this movie.  I thought this was extremely dull.  The gags weren't funny at all.  The spaghetti?  Really?  Gold Rush was infinitely better.  I really feel like the Tramp character didn't work here.  So bye silent films.  Kind of a rough send off.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

At least this made the transition easier.

Ranked number 1 in AFI's top romantic comedies.  What?!?!  When Harry Met Sally should win!

Set was visited by Einstein, Churchill, and Shaw.  Oh my goodness!

Available on YouTube:

56. Frankenstein


This is another horror movie based on a classic book.  I have read this one as well (last year I had a horror themed October) but I didn't like it as well as Dracula.  It was a lot shorter and has a lot less character depth.  I still enjoyed it though, it makes you think about what life really is.  But this isn't my book blog!  Onto the movie!

For some reason I had this prejudice that both Dracula and Frankenstein would be really corny.  That is not to say this movie is even remotely frightening, but it wasn't a joke.  This movie starts with a warning not to watch it if because it is so horrifying.  It then follows a scientist named Frankenstein who has actually figured out how to give life to things (besides using his johnson).  Of course, all hell breaks loose but it is quite poetic at the beginning if you think about it.

I thought this movie was worse than Dracula.  The acting was just mediocre.  The monster looks a bit silly.  I have found that horror films don't really age well if the director actually shows the monster.  For instance, I think Jaws, The Blair Witch Project, and Psycho will be scary in another hundred years because people will always be able to imagine their worst fear.  In Dracula, the monster was just a man, so it was still a little frightening.  Still enjoyable even though it is a bit cheesy.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

In the book, the monster was well-spoken and refined. He knew that he had been created by a man and wasn't strictly human.  The book made it seem scarier to be the monster than to be his victim.

Originally there was a line where Frankenstein said he knew what it was like to be god but it was removed by censors.

Names author has Percy Shelley instead of Mary Shelley.

Available on YouTube but for some reason it will not let me put it up.  You must fly from the nest, reader!

Monday, September 19, 2011

55. Dracula


I watched this movie awhile ago so it isn't exactly fresh in my mind.  Fortunately, I love all things Dracula so I am quite qualified to write this review.

Dracula is an amazing epistolary novel and translates well to a movie.  I was prepared for a corny horror film.  This managed to be wonderful.  You can see what a good Dracula that guy makes.  He is a great actor and totally made the film.  He creeped me the hell out.  Lock your windows at night!

If you don't know the story, you don't deserve to know.  Great movie, watch it!!  I don't have time for more!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

No fangs or bite marks are shown.

Bette Davis was considered for the role of Minnie.

The guy that played Dracula was buried in his cape.

54. Tabu


And we are back to silents.  There will always be those reactionaries.  I have to say, it was a little bit of a jolt after watching sound pictures but remember?  I have a great appreciation for silent movies now...blahblahblah.

So this film is a tragic love story.  Two people fall in love, but alas it can never be.  There are actually very few title cards which can lend itself to bad acting.  We are safe from this, however, in Tabu.  It is filmed in a documentary style like Nanook (Flaherty actually worked on this project).  You don't know who Flaherty is?  Well, too bad because I forget his first name.  Robert?  Richard?

I liked it and I usually don't like the director, Murnau.  I think I mentioned I am a sucker for romance so this was right up my alley.  Again, watching movies from different perspectives has always interested me, and this was filmed in beautiful South Asia.  Of course, bits of it were kind of boring but it was worth it.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Sorry if I am choppy, I didn't have time to edit.  Lots to do, lots to do.

Murnau died in a car crash before this was released.

Censored to take out nudie pics.

Emmy's were hilarious!

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

53. Le Million

Le Million
The Million

This movie is as wacky as some of the silent comedies we watched but because there is dialogue, it is ten times better!  I have been so pleased with the thirties so far!  Keep 'em coming!

This film is a musical, a comedy, and a romance.  It follows a young Frenchman who is in extreme debt.  He leaves his lover for someone who is, shall we say, more free with her affections.  Consequently, she gives his jacket which contains a winning lottery ticket to a man in need (hell hath no fury...).  Commence the cookiness.

Apparently, the director of this movie said that camera work was failing because directors were making dialogue take care of everything.  Obviously, we are not seeing the bad movies that have that problem.  You can tell in this film, though, that Rene Clair paid special attention to camera detail.  The acting is phenomenal.  I LOVED the romantic subplot (I always do).  One of my new favorite movies.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

There is no trivia in the IMDb page! What is a girl to do?!


Tomorrow we are back to silent films.  Awww...(will this rollercoaster relationship ever end?).

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

52. A Nous La Liberte

A Nous La Liberte
Freedom for Us

Doesn't the poster look fun?  I just love musicals.  Show tunes are the best.  When you know the story behind a song, it makes the love sweeter or the drama for more intriguing.  Unfortunately, we haven't been able to have any musicals (except for The Jazz Singer :P) because we have been in the silent era. We will start with this one and in no time we will be at West Side Story and Moulin Rouge!!

So this is a story about a prison break and a guy working his way up from the bottom...for a little while.  I can't stop bragging that I can speak French, it really is getting to be a problem with this blog (je suis tres penible!).  Anyway, the entire film is in French and I (most of the time) love French songs.  You know what is also a problem with this blog?  I use way to many parentheses.

This film has a really left wing agenda which I am always a fan of.  Overall really cute, really fun.  You could really take something away from it or you could just show it to your kids.  Your choice.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This is the first non English film to get a nomination for an Oscar.

There was a huge lawsuit between the producers of this movie and Charlie Chaplin.  Chaplin apparently stole a lot from this movie to use in his movie Modern Times.  We will be watching that, so we can see for ourselves.

I would love to hear some comments on my posts.  I am good at taking suggestions (my sister really doesn't agree with that but trust me!).

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

51. All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front
This is a little embarrassing but I have never read the book.  I know, I know!  It is a classic.  It is probably on my list too.  I will get around to it.  I am kind of backed up right now.  I am reading a war book right now.  I feel like I have a theme!

I kind of expected to hate this movie.  Statements like "war is bad" are so played out now that they are rarely interesting (Catch-22 being an exception).  However, I have to say I really liked this one.  Here in the States, you rarely hear people give the German point of view of any war.  You kind of learn that Germans are Nazis that just like killing and that is about it.  Now, this movie is about World War II but you get the drift.  Here, young Germans are fresh-faced, eager, and just loyal to their country.  Do you think this will change at the end of the movie?!?!

This film is pretty similar to The Big Parade, though more serious.  The techniques they used worked just as well here as they did there.  I really need to learn about different techniques.  All I know how to say is: that looked cool!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Nazis (who weren't in power yet) went nuts when watching this and released rats in the theaters.

Wicked prologue.

Most violent films of its time.

Available on YouTube; first part:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

50. Little Caesar

Little Caesar

This movie is the introduction to gangster films.  Actually, it is pretty much every gangster film you have ever seen, all rolled into one not-so-interesting plot line.  I am not a big fan of gangster movies.  I felt like The Godfather was overrated, was almost bored to tears during Casino, and I have not seen Goodfellas yet.  I also recently saw the 1932 version of Scarface and this is pretty much the same film.

Do I have to give a plot summary?  Common sense really.  Rico joins a mob and raises in the ranks.  I bet you have no idea how this ends! Now, I know I am bashing but I did actually enjoy this movie.  It is well-acted, and you can't really roll your eyes at cliches when you watching the movie that invented them.  This movie is also a statement on the post-depression era.  That is what I love about this journey; you get to experience the times with the audience!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:


A federal anti-organized crime division is named RICO after this movie.

The line "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" was voted 74 in top 100 movie lines by AFI.

Clark Gable was going to be cast but the director thought his ears were too big.  Good luck living that down.

The famous line:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

49. Zemlya


So it is getting really late and I have to get up at six tomorrow.  I am yawning and pretty much unhinging my jaw like a snake trying to stay up to write this.  This might not be thorough or well thought out but deal with it!

How many Soviet Union propaganda movies have we watched?  I feel like I have seen too many.  I watched half of this movie before watching Live Free or Die Hard and then I watched the second half.  I have to say, this one wasn't as exciting.  It felt like we went back a few years.  It was silent and two hours long.  It pretty much just recorded some shit happening to proletariats in Ukraine.  Thrilling...

Maybe I shouldn't have watched this when I was so tired and my constant yawns were obscuring my vision.  I definitely thought this was a major snore.  I probably got spoiled from our brief talkie phase.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Film has been voted one of the ten greatest movies of all time at Brussels.  And that, boys and girls, is the definition of the word pretentious.

Censored by Soviets.

Full movie is not available on YouTube.  It is not worth a purchase.  Here is a clip:

48. L'Age d'Or

L'Age d'Or
The Age of Gold

It seems like the only picture you can get of this movie is of this lady sucking a statue's toes.  No really how I would want to be remembered as an actress but hey.  At least she didn't have ants coming out of her hands.

So this movie is like an extended version of Un Chien Andalou.  Now a sixteen minute movie of complete and utter confusion is a bit easier to watch than a chaotic film that lasts over an hour.  The whole time I watched this I was in a prolonged state of "whaaaaa?" (much like my high school trignometry class).  I really am not a fan of experimental or surrealist film.  What is wrong with a plot and a story?  They never hurt anyone...

I forget if I said this in one of my other reviews but I have seen plenty of good films that convey a message while having an enjoyable plot structure.   I think I needed someone to watch this with me who was a huge Dali fan so he (and yes I am referring to my dream guy here) could keep me enthused and interested.  Much like when I watch James Bond films, after being confused for the first half hour, I stop caring/trying.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

After being premiered in 1930, fascist groups started to throw purple paint (did they just have that lying around?) at the screen and slashed paintings by artists such as Salvador Dali.  It was removed from circulation after that.

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Monday, September 5, 2011

47. Der Blaue Engel

Der Blaue Engel
The Blue Angel

And so we kick off the thirties.  This should be an interesting decade and I think more so than the twenties, at least as far as America goes.

So Marlene Dietrich pretty much as the same character that Louise Brooks has in Pandora's Box (Dietrich was actually supposed to play Lulu).  Now, you can watch the German or the English version because they were filmed at the same time.  I went for authenticity and watched the German one (aka the German version was available on Watch Instantly and the English one wasn't).  Anyway, a strict German teacher falls in love with a flapper.

The actors in these movies are getting better and better.  However, this movie really didn't do it for me.  I didn't understand why some scenes were even in the film and I found myself getting bored quite often.  Not great.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Marlene Dietrich was pretty unknown at the time and was certain she wouldn't get the role.

Emil Janning's (who we have seen before) first English film.

A clip from YouTube:

The Oscars!

Hey people!


We have come a long way.  So this decade started us off with Way Done East and we finished with Pandora's Box.  We have laughed with Buster Keaton and were disgusted with Griffith.  We were entirely weirded out with Andalousian Dog (I pretty sure I screwed up the spelling) and delighted with The Passion of Joan of Arc.  I feel like I have learned a lot since I started and I also think I am a better person for experiencing this very unique era.

So I decided to do the Oscars for this decade.  Okay, so they are not really the Oscars considering I am going to make up most of my own categories and this is going to span a decade rather than a year.  But work with me people!  Feel free to comment on differing opinions or if you want to come with your own categories you may.  Here we go!

Best Picture: Winner: The Passion of Joan of Arc
                    Nominees: Sunset
                                     Sherlock Jr.
                                     Pandora's Box

Worst Picture: Winner: Napoleon
                       Nominees: Strike
                                        The Jazz Singer
                                        The Battleship Potemkin

Honorary Award: The Jazz Singer for introducing sound (besides exceptions such as Sunset or Phantom of the Opera).

Honorary Award: Napoleon for making one of the most boring movies (and the longest) I have ever seen.

Best Director: Winner: Alfred Hitchcock
                      Nominees: There are no nominees!  It is always Hitchcock (except for Woody Allen)

Best Actress: Winner: Louise Brooks
                     Nominees: Renee Falconetti
                                      Joan Crawford
                                      Janet Gaynor

Weirdest Movie: Winner: Un Chien Anadalou
                           Nominees: Man With a Movie Camera
                                            Last Laugh

Best Actor: Winner: Buster Keaton
                   Nominees: George O'Brien
                                    Harold Lloyd
                                    James Murray
                                    Charles Chaplin

Best Line: Winner: "You ain't seen nothing yet." The Jazz Singer
                Nominees: It was the silent era!  What else is there to choose from?

46. Die Büchse der Pandora

Die Büchse der Pandora
Pandora's Box

I actually watched this a couple days ago because my Netflix list got screwed up (ahem...Storm Over Asia).  This movie was interesting, kind of dark, and chilling but seductive all at the same time.

So Louise Brooks is a woman who seduces everyone she sees.  She resembles Catherine Zeta-Jones from Chicago and now I am pretty sure that they modeled her look after Louise Brooks because it goes with the time period (Chicago is set in the twenties).  She even attracts a lady, which makes this the first movie with a lesbian.  She is really beautiful but I think people were more attracted to the way she carried herself; she was just...womanly.  Like Scarlett O'Hara.  Anyway, she gets married, and that blows up in her face, and then a series of events occur that lead her to Jack the Ripper.

This movie definitely had a distinct tone. It was, as stated before, really creepy but it wasn't a horror movie.  For instance, the London they showed wasn't the London I knew and loved. Instead, it was foggy, dangerous, and mysterious.  I don't think I was supposed to get as creeped out as I did watching this film, but it was something about the mystical power she had over people or the dark settings.  Very good, very well-acted.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Alice Roberts, who played the Countess Ann, was opposed to playing a lesbian at first but then the director told her to just act like she was making her "love gestures" to a man off screen.

Her haircut is still referred to as the Lulu to this day.

Not available on YouTube sorry.  Here is a clip:

45. Chelovek s Kino-Apparatom

Chelovek s Kino-Apparatom
Man With a Movie Camera

So I usually give a brief summary in my reviews but um...I have no idea what the hell just happened.

Basically, this is a film of people doing things.  The director uses pretty much all the techniques available at that time to a score that makes me feel like I should be in a factory assembly line in high speed.  There is no plot, no intertitles, no real actors, and no sets.  Sometimes, he would even film a guy holding a camera which might have been him, I really haven't the faintest clue.

So did I like it?  It kind of reminded me of Andalusian Dog though less disturbing.  I prefer a story, if that is not too much trouble for these directors.  However, it was kind of interesting to see all the different techniques...for the first ten minutes.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The director's name was Dziga Vertov (I copied and pasted that one).

His wife edited the film.

This is an experimental film which basically means if you don't like it, you don't understand it.

Available on YouTube:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

44. Blackmail


Man, we are so freaking close to the end of the 20s.  I am getting so pumped! I had seen this movie already because Alfred Hitchcock is my second favorite director (after Woody Allen).  I know it is a tad cliche but his ability to terrify people (namely me after watching Psycho) after 50 years is incredible!  This film also is a talkie which is like my dream come true!

So Anny Ondra (one of the first of Hitchcock's blonde damsels) is almost raped by an artist and stabs him in self-defense.  Gee, what do you think happens next?  You guessed it, she is blackmailed!  That is as far as I want to go without ruining anything.

This was a great movie, and no, not just because I am desperate for sound.  Hitchcock always picks great actors (most notably Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant) and this film is no exception.  You have probably heard of the famous "knife, knife, knife" scene (fantastic!) and if you haven't, I will let you discover it by yourself.  Now I think I have seen all the Hitchcocks in the book, and this definitely isn't my favorite.  Still, better than most movies we have seen so far.

RATING:  ****-

Interesting Facts:

First British talkie.

Anny Ondra was dubbed over because she couldn't speak English very well.

The first five minutes are silent so don't think that there is something wrong with your movie.

Hitchcock cast a shadow over the villian's face in one shot to make it look like he had a bushy moustache like in old silent movies.  He called it his farewell to silent pictures.  I feel like I have to say goodbye soon and it is 2011.  This book is messing me up!

Hitchcock Radar: He is on the underground!

Was filmed at first as a silent movie but was later changed to have sound after the success of The Jazz Singer.

Michael Powell claims to have given Hitchcock the idea to film chase scenes at famous landmarks.  I highly doubt this.  Powell really just sucks as a person and a director.

Available on YouTube and Netflix Instant:

43. Potomok Chingiskhana

Potomok Chingiskhana
The Storm Over Asia
So apparently short wait on Netflix means a month (I still love you Netflix!).  Sorry it took so long.  The plus side is that I am a little bit ahead in movies so reviews will be coming up a lot faster.  I am pretty much drowning in movies I have so many to watch.  Not the worst thing I could be drowning in though.

So this was a pretty interesting movie.  Usually the relentless propaganda annoys me but this film is extremely well-done so it makes up for it.  This movie is about a simple herdsman who is captured by the capitalist "dogs".  He is the descendant of an emperor is he is made head of the puppet regime in Mongolia.  Of course, they underestimate his loyalty to socialism and heroism ensues.

I loved the score in this one.  I just watched Pandora's Box (that review is coming shortly) and I felt like I was listening to a parade while simultaneously watching a serious scene.  However, this score was perfect in capturing different moods.  The story was pretty watcheable and the acting was good.  I particularly liked this one scene that was kind of a montage of men doing karate while looking straight at the camera.  That was hot:).

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This movie is historically inaccurate becuase the British never were in Mongolia and the actions that the British are taking were really done by the Russians.  I should really read more about this.  I think we had like one unit on this in high school and then the rest were on American history. Ah, ethnocentrism..

People that follow my book blog: I did not forget about it!  I am still slogging my way through Clarissa and I should be done at the end of labor day weekend.

This is the ending of the movie.  I don't know why you would want to watch it without seeing the rest of the film but I felt like I should put a clip.  Enjoy: