Friday, December 30, 2011

111. The Awful Truth

The Awful Truth
Directed by Leo McCarey

I had seen this one a long time ago but I decided to watch it again to refresh myself.  It is a good movie to watch again because the jokes are so fast that you will surely miss a few the first time.

Cary Grant is one of my favorite actors of all time.  We had seen him previously in She Done Him Wrong but he was more of an object to listen to Mae West's one liners than a real character.  In this movie he plays the husband of a couple that begins to get a divorce on unfounded suspicions.  They still love each other so they do their best to ruin the other's potential romances.  It is one of those witty and quick films that can only be delivered by the likes of Powell and Loy, Dunne and Grant, or Bogart and Bacall.  I can't even picture my favorite current actors pulling off a movie of this caliber.

As you probably guessed, I really enjoyed this film.  I am going to miss 30s comedies.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The dog in this movie also starred in The Thin Man series.  I knew it!

The movie was mostly improvised by the cast and McCarey during filming.

Won Best Director.

Best moments:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

110. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Yay!  A movie from my childhood.  Actually, I think this movie ended up in our rejected pile most of the time in favor of Lion King, Mulan, or Aladdin.  We were never really too fond of the songs and I think the forest scared us.

So you know the creepy plot.  I think a bunch of new Snow White movies are coming out, including one featuring Julia Roberts (sigh).  This film is truly amazing when you think about the sheer magnificence of such an achievement.  We owe all our Disney favorites to this film even if this movie does not rank among them.

Okay songs, ridiculous plot, and sappy sentimentality.  What more do you want?

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The special Oscar that the film received was actually eight statuettes (Snow White and seven dwarfs).

J.R.R. Tolkein used the word "dwarves" so the name of this movie is often erroneously spoken.

Hitler's favorite film. 

109. Make Way For Tomorrow

Make Way For Tomorrow
I have been watching some really boring movies lately.  I watched Ben-Hur yesterday, A Christmas Story this morning, and The Deer Hunter last night (the latter was actually pretty enjoyable but a bit too long).  This movie was just purely depressing.  My grandfather died a month ago and this film reminded me strongly of him.

The film centers around an elderly couple who are forced to move in with their middle aged children.  The problem is, the couple must be separated into two different families in order to be convenient for the children.  The couple is extremely obnoxious to their relatives.  However, the film does not takes side or makes you hate anyone for what happens.

So, like I said, this movie is really sad.  The acting and directing were great but at the end of the day, I wished I hadn't seen it.  Way too depressing.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The elderly husband and wife were only 61 and 49. 

Leo McCarey, the director, won the Best Director Oscar for The Awful Truth.  He said repeatedly that he won the Oscar for the wrong film.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

108. Life of Emile Zola

Life of Emile Zola

I finished reading Nana about a week ago because I knew this movie was coming up and I wanted to be prepared.  Actually, the film is more about the Dreyfus affair than Nana which is just as well because I thought Nana was repetitive (speaking of which, how many times can I say Nana in one paragraph?).

For those of you who don't know (I was in this category approximately an hour ago) the Dreyfuss scandal happened when a Jewish officer was accused of leaking military secrets.  Dreyfuss was convicted with very little evidence and exiled.  Zola wrote an article defending Dreyfus and was consequently convicted of libel.  I found this movie to be pretty interesting, although I always think biopics drag on a little too long.

Overall, it was a good film though not very exciting.  I am going to have to go watch a trashy action film after this.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Zola roomed with Paul Cezanne.

Nominated for ten Oscars (it won Best Picture, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay).

Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  A Parisian roofer said on his deathbed that he had killed Zola for political reasons.


Monday, December 19, 2011

107. Stella Dallas

Stella Dallas

This is one of those mother-daughter tearjerkers that I always seem to hate.  I will cry at the end of Star Wars but I always watch movies like this with a stony face.  Just wait until we get to the Terms of Endearment post!

Barbara Stanwyck won an Oscar for her performance in this film and it is well deserved; she is absolutely phenomenal.  Throughout the film, Stanwyck gets older and frumpier.  I always admire actresses who allow themselves to look ugly on screen.  I think the plot is just...meh.  A woman has to make the ultimate sacrifice for her daughter so her daughter can have shallow opportunities.

This is a movie worth seeing because of the amazing acting but not much else.  Unless you are into the sappy, female bonding movies, in which case, rent Beaches instead.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Ruth Chatterton turned down the role of Stella because she had just played such a bad wife in Dodsworth.

Became a radio serial in October of 1937 because of its immense popularity.

Available on YouTube.  First part:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

106. La Grande Illusion

La Grande Illusion
The Grand Illusion

I have been on such a French kick lately.  I just finished Nana and am starting Les Miserables, I went out to a French restaurant (goat cheese!!!), and I watched this.  The restaurant led to one of those oh-that-was-so-good-let's-leave-oh-my-god-I-forgot-my-wallet-let's-make-a-run-for-it-or-ask-the-lady-next-to-us-for-money-yay-I-found-a-twenty-in-my-purse-and-we-have-a-groupon-but-not-enough-for-a-tip situations.  i am still enjoying my phase, though.

Anyway, this was a pretty decent film.  This was one of the first prison break movies (we 1001ers know that before this there was A Nous la Liberte or I Am a Fugitive From the Chain Gang).  This film is about two Frenchmen who struggle to break free from a German prison camp.  This was a pretty risky move considering Hitler was in his prime at the time.  In fact, this film was banned during World War II (it didn't help that a Jew was in the film).  It is very artsy; but what do you expect from a Jean Renoir film.  Check it out!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Woody Allen's favorite movie.

First foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

105. Ye Ban Ge Sheng

Ye Ban Ge Sheng
Midnight Song or Song at Midnight

So this is actually pretty embarrassing.  In one of my earlier posts, I was bragging about having seen all the versions of Phantom of the Opera.  Then this Chinese version comes along and spoils everything.  Well, now I have seen all the versions (I think)!

My version of this film was incredibly awful.  It made my version of Things to Come look like 3D.  The subtitles were inaccurate/choppy and the picture was shaky.  I probably would have hated it anyway, though. The film making was really elementary.  For instance, at one point someone is singing about a girl being like a tree standing alone and a shot of a tree is shown.  Then he sings about how she is like the moon and a shot of the moon is shown.  We don't need everyt metaphor illustrated, buddy.  We can use our imaginations.

This movie is about an extremely twisted love story.  The acting is pretty poor.  Chinese is not the prettiest language either.  Two hours of Chinese and I was actually craving German.  Crazy, right?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Holy shit!  There are about 30 different versions of this movie.  How ethnocentric of me!