Monday, October 31, 2011

84. The Black Cat

The Black Cat


I am writing in this hideous orange color in honor of the holiday.  I love to have feasts of candy and movie marathons on Halloween.  Today I am watching: The Black Cat, Child's Play, Audition, and possibly Funny Games.  I love this holiday!

So don't get excited; this film has nothing to do with the Edgar Allen Poe story.  It is closer hurts to even say the name of this movie...The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I despise that movie, but there will be plenty of time to talk about that when that review comes (I know you can't wait).  A couple is trapped in a mansion in Hungary after a car accident.  Dracula costars.

First of all, I was disappointed that "The Black Cat" didn't have anything to do with the movie.  The fact that it resembled that film was salt in the wound.  I thought it was kind of boring.  I was all ready to be scared and then it was just lame.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The director used the name Black Cat so people would go see it, thinking that it was the Poe story.  Well played.

The villain was partly based on Fritz Lang.

If you want to watch a scary movie today my recommendations are Ringu, Psycho, Paranormal Activity, or Blair Witch Project.  Those are the scariest movies I have ever seen.

Available on YouTube.  First part: 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

83. L'Atalante


Wow, I feel cheated.  This isn't the first time this has happened during this journey.  I am not too pissed about James Cameron's plagiarism because Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio really made the scene their own.  I am surprised, though, that no one ever told me about this.  One of hipsters' favorite past times is to bag on Titanic

A lot of critics call this the best film ever made.   I really don't think it deserves that much praise.  I did not hate it, but the best movie ever?  I also have a grudge against Jean Vigo after Zero de Conduite.

This movie is about two lovers who live on a ship.  They annoy everyone else because they are either making out or fighting.  It is supposed to be an amazing love story, but honestly, the characters annoyed the hell out of me.  The acting wasn't great either.  Overall, it does not live up to the hype.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

References Boudu Saved from Drowning.

Roger Ebert reviewed this.  Click here.

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Friday, October 28, 2011

82. Triumph des Willens

Triumph des Willens
Triumph of the Will

I once witnessed some American boys teaching a Chinese foreign exchange student how to properly pronounce the word "faggot".  My uncle had a talk with me when I was fifteen about what life as a true alcoholic is like.  I saw footage of 9/11 that showed people jumping out of the World Trade Centers. Watching Adolf Hitler smile shyly to the camera as he disembarked from a plane amid cheers is one of these moments; the kind that fills you up with awful sadness and despair on what humanity is truly capable of.  There is no way to be consoled.  The only way you can ever get over the sickening emotion is by not thinking.  That's right: the cure is ignorance or denial.

I don't want to spend a long time on this post.  This movie doesn't include exterminations or concentration camps.  Just lots of speeches and smiles.  I think that is what scared me the most.  A genocide was occurring and for a hour and a half, you watched one of the most evil men ever born wave to little girls and nod to young men.  I visited Anne Frank's hideout in Holland.  I saw where they would measure the kids on the walls.  I saw pictures of boys Anne thought were cute. I felt her presence as I examined her girlish handwriting.  In short, I saw a very small part of a family that was utterly destroyed by Adolf Hitler.  With this film, I got a look at the man who was responsible for all the atrocities.  And you know what?  He just kept smiling.

This is a film not to be rated.  To discuss its technical achievements is trivial and unimportant.  To talk about the filmmaker (who thought of people in concentration camps as "extras") is to give her a moment's thought which is more than she deserves.  This film is to be remembered surely.  I will always remember: it is the face of true evil.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

81. It's a Gift

It's a Gift

Another 30s, male lead comedy.  More outdated jokes but quality acting.  So instead of repeating myself again, I will spend this post talking about other things.

Today I fell in a huge puddle of mud.  My favorite actors are Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey, Joan Blondell, Ewan McGregor, and Nicole Kidman.  I really don't like talking about the illegal immigrant problem, because I really have no idea what to do about it.  I have a historical crush on Alexander Hamilton.  I have a thing for red-headed guys.  I have a huge prejudice against the French and I am head over heels in love with London.

There.  I hope that was more interesting to you than a lecture on how humorous I found that movie.  It probably wasn't and now you feel gypped.  I apologize; we can discuss this movie over comments if you want.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

I guess I should tell you that this film is about a kind of Mr. Bennet character who wants to buy an orange farm.

80. Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert

This is one of those "aren't wives controlling and obnoxious bitches?" kind of comedies.  I usually can laugh at them, but I was raised by an extreme feminist so something in me twitches.  I also heard a guy say today that women shouldn't be allowed to drive so maybe I am just looking for a fight.

So Laurel and Hardy are apparently a "thing" just like the Marx Brothers.  I had actually never heard of them before.  This means that I haven't heard of any fans of theirs either.  I have a similar opinion about this movie and Duck Soup.  I am sure they were hilarious for the time, but now their jokes are completely outdated. They didn't get a laugh out of me once.  This is not to say that comedies from the thirties can never be funny.  I loved Gold Diggers of 1933 and I even laughed at Buster Keaton back in the twenties. I think the difference is that the comedies I like were a lot more subtle and witty.  Sons of the Desert, Duck Soup, and even Chaplin's movies consisted of pure gags, which are never as entertaining.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Good acting, though.

"Well, here is another fine mess you got me into" was #60 in AFI's top 100 movie quotes.

Had to get this one off Amazon.

Friday, October 21, 2011

79. The Bitter Tea of General Yen

The Bitter Tea of General Yen

This was truly a great movie.  Finally, a movie set in China that isn't a propaganda film or just a backdrop for Marlene Dietrich's sexuality.  Granted, General Yen is really Swedish (which gives me uncomfortable flashbacks from Broken Blossoms) but everyone else was actually Chinese.  It this time period you have to take what you can get.

Barbara Stanwyck is captured by General Yen and she falls in love with him.  This movie is really well-acted; I knew Stanwyck would deliver but I thought the other actors would either pale in comparision or give an offensive performance.  The love story is unlike anything seen before.  Not only is it interracial (which was really shocking at the time) but it wasn't comedic, light, or unrealistic.  Not that the other movies we have been reviewing were frivolous, but this is really one of the first tragic love stories we have seen (if you don't count King Kong; I really don't).  General Yen was also a bad boy (he took it a bit too far at times) which was unusual considering the totally square protaganists as of late.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

The Chinese government was upset about the scene with the firing squad and the portrayal of the Chinese philosphy on life.  This did not result in any editing.

Nils Asther (General Yen) did not speak Mandarin.

The dream sequence reminded me of Nosferatu.

I may be wrong about this, but I think the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast was partly inspired by this.  If you watch this, can you comment on my theory?  This isn't at all a ploy to get people to actually comment on my blog.  Or is it?

Available on YouTube.  First part:

78. King Kong

King Kong

Don't be put off by the god awful graphics shown above.  This was actually a pretty good movie minus the racist tribal scenes.  If I have to explain the plot to you, please comment about your life story.  I had seen the Peter Jackson remake.  That was around seven years ago, so all I really remember is lots of crazy special effects.  According to the book, this movie spawned movies that focus mainly on graphics rather than plot or character development.  I was actually pleasantly surprised that the plot didn't totally suck.  The director did a good job of slowly building up to the main action.

I would recommend watching it; it is the classic man vs. beast tale.  Hell, even some of the music sounded like it was from Jaws.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

First film ever to be rereleased.

When Fay Wray heard the leading man being described as "tall and dark" she thought he would be Cary Grant.

Kong's roar is a combination of a tiger's and a lion's roar played backwards.

Saved RKO from bankruptcy.

It was beauty that killed the beast...

Number 41 in AFI's top 100 movies list.

Trailer with unflattering image:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

77. Las Hurdes

Las Hurdes
Land Without Bread

Good god, that was depressing.  I am in the midst of watching The Talented Mr. Ripley, reading The Shining, and watching this little comedic gem.  I need to consult some chocolate about this.  But before we resort to that, let's finish the review!

Life in Las Hurdes ain't no crystal stair, ladies and gentleman (wow, I just made that reference).  The point of this documentary was to show that even in "civilized" countries like Spain, things are not always ginger peachy.  In addition to showing some of the poor inhabitants, you also get to watch a goat fall off a cliff and a donkey get killed by bees.  That was so gross!!

This entire documentary, though, is narrated in a cold, emotionless voice much like Ovid's.  I would recommend that you watch it.  It is only twenty-seven minutes and it is available on YouTube.  I wish I hadn't seen somethings but I guess that really doesn't matter.  I mean, Se7en is just the worst and I will still give it a glowing review.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This film was banned in Spain from 1933-36.

Holy shit, this is so disturbing.  The animals were actually killed in the way shown on camera.  That is revolting.

First part:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

76. Queen Christina

Queen Christina

Okay, this is my fifth review for the day and I am getting tired of listening to myself.  But I really wanted to get caught up.  My reward will be a cookie.  I am a very healthy person.

Greta Garbo plays Queen Christina of Sweden.  Christina's story is actually incredibly interesting.  I think I mentioned before though, that our history education is limited in the States to the American Revolution and the Civil War.  We rarely even talked about Vietnam.  Why on earth would Americans be ashamed of that one???

Anyway, almost every scene of this movie is Garbo's, so it is a good thing she did so well.  I still am on Team Dietrich in this dispute but I have to admit Garbo was amazing.  The parts of Christina's life they chose to dwell on, though, aren't very interesting which is a shame, because it could have been thrilling.  i would definitely rent it.  Cookie time!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Read more about the Queen here.

Garbo did one scene to a metronome because it was so meticulously choreographed.

Fan made trailer:

75. Duck Soup

Duck Soup

My dad and I were playing Scene It once and the tie breaker was movies with an animal name in the title.  Of course, this went on for about forty five minutes.  The Marx Brothers really helped me out that day...

Not funny at all. Really just antifunny actually.  The jokes are as old as the hills.  I guess this just shows how genius the Marx Brothers really were though because of how much they have been copied.  This, however, doesn't make for an interesting watch and I was thoroughly bored for most of it.  The musical number at the end warranted a chuckle though because of all the musicals we have been seeing lately.  I guess if you really want to study the history of comedy in cinema this is a must watch but otherwise avoid at all costs (like I do with Monty Python).

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

I am going to spare you from hearing the explanation for the movie's title.  The joke is so bad!!

#60 in AFI's top 100 movie list.

Mussolini banned this film because he thought it was attacking him.  The Marx Brothers were ecstatic.

74. She Done Him Wrong

She Done Him Wrong

It has been a while since I saw this movie, but I don't remember liking it enough to watch it again.  I am not saying it was bad, but it just didn't make an impression on me.

Mae West is mixed up with a bunch of crooks.  She also loves diamonds.  Cary Grant plays her love interest.  I was so astonished at seeing Cary Grant that young that I wasn't even sure it was even him!  This movie is smart and sharp.  Just as a sidenote, I can do a really good Mae West impression.  I can also do Meryl Streep and Frenchie from Grease.  My sister can do Sarah Jessica Parker and the weird woman from High Noon.  We are quite the act. 

Anyway, this movie is fun.  You will probably enjoy all 66 minutes of it and then completely forget about it.  Unless you are a huge Mae West fan.  In which case, you are probably very interested in my Mae West impression.  It is quite impressive, I can assure you.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

"Why don't you come up sometime, see me" was voted #26 in AFI's top 100 movie quotes.

Shortest movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

I heard someone say today that they hated black and white movies.  Sigh...

73. Gold Diggers of 1933

Gold Diggers of 1933
Okay, this movie is absolutely hilarious.  I watched it with my parents.  We wanted to watch a movie so they looked at what I had recorded (many list movies were options) and we chose this.  We were pretty much hysterical from start to finish.

The plot centers on several showgirls who exploit rich guys for money.  Not only is the dialogue witty and funny but the cooky situations that occur are fucking hysterical.  I was thinking about describing one scenario but I think I will botch it so I will just let it pass.  One particular line in the movie is my dad and mine's new favorite: "Peabody, you disgust me."  Just say it out loud a couple times, and you will realize the full potential of this message.  My dad and I use it when we play pool.  Too often actually, because I am not very good.

Don't even get me started on the musical numbers.  They are absolutely ridiculous. At the end, for some reason, the stage is about the size of a football field.  There is grass, snow, and twenty different sets on one stage.  There is also a scary baby.  Best to watch when intoxicated.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

"Petting in the Park" is INSANE!
The musical numbers were added due to the success of 42nd Street.

Okay, just watch this one scene and tell me you don't love this movie!

72. The Footlight Parade

The Footlight Parade

There really isn't that much of a difference between this movie and the previous one.  Even Gold Diggers, my favorite of the set, isn't that different than these films.  Right now, it is just of blur of legs and wisecracks.

This film is superior to 42nd Street, despite their similarities.  The dialogue is a lot witter than the dullness of 42nd's.  I absolutely adore Joan Blondell.  She was an incredibly interesting lady, if you ever want to read about her.  She always comes across as a woman who can hold her own on any stage and she just happens to be beautiful.  Anyway, what is really important in these movies are the musical numbers.

There are three numbers at the end that have to be seen to be believed.  I love musicals.  By that I mean, watching musicals, of course, not starring in them; though I did rock the house as a lady of the court when I was in eighth grade.  Anyway, I think even people that don't particularly like musicals will be astounded by the magnitude of the end productions.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

John Garfield was rumored to be in one of the numbers but this was later disputed by Judy Garland.

The most stunning of the numbers, "By the Waterfall".

Sunday, October 9, 2011

71. 42nd Street

42nd Street

You have probably have heard of this movie before.  I think a musical coming up on the list, The Gold Diggers of 1933, was superior to this one.  But, I should try to give an objective review to this film, never mind that Gold Diggers is better in every single way.

This movie is like The Little Caesar of musicals.  I have reviewed a few musicals before this, but this is the film that really set the framework for all musicals in the future.  The plot is extremely mundane so you can let your mind wander as you read the next two sentences.  The lead actress in a musical twists her ankle and it is up to an inexperienced actress to save the show.  But can she pull it off?  Time to tune in again!

The acting is really dismal and the dialogue is mostly unorginal.  However, the musical numbers are what really sets this movie apart. Busby Berkeley (yes, someone is actually named that) choreographed all the number and the sheer magnitude of those scenes is unbelievable.  This movie is worth seeing just for those scenes, but like I said, Busby really shines in Gold Diggers.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This movie singlehandedly saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy.

The line "Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" was voted as the #87 AFI's top 100 movie quotes.

Premiere voted this poster #7 in "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever".
Revived the movie musical genre.
Final musical number:

70. Zero de Conduite

Zero de Conduite
Zero for Conduct

Sigh, another surrealist film.  I need Woody Allen to explain these to me (I need Woody Allen for a lot of reasons).  At least they are always short; this one clocks in at around 45 minutes.

In high school, I tried many times to rally my friends into a rebellion.  I mean, if you think about it, really think about it, high school is basically a prison.  All I proposed was optional attendence and trigonometry classes and people thought I was crazy.  Oh, well.

The above paragraph, believe it or not, had a point.  This film is about young boys rising up against the tyrannical teachers.  It is extremely weird and something that has to be seen rather than explained.  Now, I have fallen in love with many "artsy" films before, but surrealist movies have never fallen into that category.   I tend to just find them rather pointless and boring.  Maybe I am just not getting it at all and if anyone wanted to leave comments and it explain it to me, I would be delighted by your pretentiousness.  Otherwise, I just thought it was stupid.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Aren't I a treat today?

This film was banned in France until after World War II.

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

69. Me and My Gal

Me and My Gal

That was an ordeal.

This movie is extremely difficult to find.  I seriously thought that I would never find this movie and that would be the end of my 1001 films journey.  Here is what I did:
1. I checked Netflix, YouTube, eBay, Amazon, and eMule.
2. I asked my brother an alternative version from online.  He accidentally downloaded For Me and My Gal, which is a red herring.
3. I asked the film teacher at the local high school if he had ever heard of it.  He hadn't, and asked if it was a Harold Lloyd in 1932!  That was disappointing.
4. I begin to weekly check FMC because I read in another blog that it plays about once a year on that channel.
5. My mom, who has a Facebook and Twitter, heard about my woes.  She tweeted about it and got a response.  She ordered it online.  I don't know how this site existed, because I thought I had really checked out the internet for this.
6. We both got so excited that we ordered three copies.  We will probably end up selling them.

So I finally got to watch this movie.  If anyone out there wants to see this film, I can give you the website.  For the first time since I started this monumental 1001 task, I finally feel like it is actually going to happen.  Anyway, onto the hard earned review.

Spencer Tracy is so young in this movie that you will be amazed (that is, if you ever actually see this movie which in all likelihood you will not).  He is a cop and falls in love with a waitress who reminded me of the thief in Trouble in Paradise.  This movie was filmed before Prohibition was repealed and they were pretty risque with how much drinking they showed.  It was a fun movie and pretty witty at times, but it certainly wasn't worth all this trouble.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

I can't find any trivia for this film but here is a quote:

Oh, he kissed me.  I am so thrilled but I will pretend to be mad.

Didn't I just tell you this movie is basically nonexistent?  There are no videos!

68. Freaks


I grew up reading The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.  He was extremely funny and of course, I was considered extremely well-read by fellow seven-year-olds for having read the entire series.  One of the books took place in a circus, and the three main protaganists befriended many of the "freaks".  It was disturbing to me as a child. When I watched this movie, I got the same unsettling feeling.

The film starts with an audience screaming as they see an incredibly awful sight.  A circus performer then begins to tell the tragic backstory of one of the freaks.  I have always loved films that are flashbacks although this one is a lot more grosteque then say, The Titanic (couldn't be more different actually).  I got the ending ruined for me simply by looking up background on the movie but I will not spoil it for you.

This movie is probably nothing like you have seen before.  It is completely authentic and in the age we live in now, I feel safe in saying that a film like it will never be made again.  This movie, though, was not made to make fun of or gawk at the freaks but rather to show that inside they are exactly the same as us (I know that sounded lame but deal with it!). The people that pay to see them are shown as the freaks, not the performers.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The electrical equipment on set was faulty so the actors were frequently shocked.

The romance between the midgets was subdued because they were brother and sister.

It is still technically illegal to watch this movie in some parts of the US because the laws that banned this movie were never really repealed.  Uh oh.

A fan made trailer I found: