Tuesday, December 31, 2013

419. My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady
Directed by George Cukor

Happy New Year, everybody.  It is 12:03 right now and I want to get this post written before I go to bed.  Mostly because I had too much caffeine and there are annoying fireworks outside but also because this is going to be a great blogging year and I want to get started right away.

This is one of those movies that I know I should love but I can't get behind.  I love musicals, makeover stories, and George Bernard Shaw.  But this film just lacks in every area, from the acting to the musical numbers.  In fact, The Book notes that there is a large amount of dead time in the film.  If The Book actually admits that something is boring (it maintains that Apocalypse Now is not) than you can bet it is going to be dull.

Eliza Doolittle is a street urchin that sells flowers.  Henry Higgins comes along and is affected, not by the obvious squalor that Eliza and her friends live in, but how freaking annoying her Cockney accent is.  He vows to fix her in the most condescending manner possible, while simultaneously taking all the fun out of a musical by speaking all of his songs.

I have already voiced my opinion on Audrey Hepburn acting skills so I will not rip on her anymore, lest a horde of teenage girls show up with pitchforks at my door.  I actually did enjoy a few songs but a lot of them weren't good enough to be included if they didn't at least move the story along.  I also felt like the film was trying to push Eliza and Henry together romantically when it is quite clear that Henry is gay.  Now, I know I can't really fault them for that since it was a different time but Eliza is in for quite an unpleasant surprise.

It is such a classic that you should probably see it but there are such better musicals out there!  Oh well, on to the next one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Rex Harrison said that Audrey Hepburn was his favorite leading lady.

Henry Higgins' character was considered too intellectual to sing his songs.  Buzz kill.

Audrey Hepburn was 35 years old while her character was supposed to be 19.

Hepburn's voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon.

My favorite song of the movie:

418. Marnie

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

I generally hate any film that has rape in it.  It always leaves me shaken up and so horrified that I can't really enjoy the rest of the movie.  Now, this statement might lean on the annoying side, but I feel like men can't really understand.  I have watched men watch rape scenes, and although they are of course disgusted, it doesn't seem to affect them in the visceral way that it does with women.  They can look past it and focus on the movie as a whole or think about the context but all I can think, and this is true for all the women that I know, is "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this".  Now, I could of course be wrong but that is what I have observed.  Unfortunately, as soon as I saw the rape in this movie (and yes, that was rape, even if it wasn't as violent as the act usually is) I checked out, especially considering Sean Connery's attitude toward women in real life.

Marnie is a thief who steals from Mark Rutland, who tells her that she has to marry him or he will go to the police.  This could be an intriguing premise, but it is told in a rather inappropriately silly manner so any promised effect that the story presented was lost.

As frequent readers know, I try to be a spoiler free site, so I won't say why I thought the explanation at the end about why Marnie fears the color red is preposterous.  I would say find out yourself, but I would highly recommend skipping this film, lest it ruin your opinion of both Sean Connery and Alfred Hitchcock.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Evan Hunter, the screenwriter, was fired by Hitchcock for wanting to take out the rape scene.

Grace Kelly was originally supposed to star in this film but the citizens of Monaco did not want their princess to portray a thief.

HITCHCOCK RADAR: Around the five minute mark, he passes Marnie in the hotel.


417. Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Directed by Jacques Demy

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!  I plan on partying hard tonight (i.e. eating lots of cake).  Stay safe!

I have a slight problem with musicals that are sung from start to finish. There tends to be a lot of dead time and sometimes, especially when people are speaking very quickly to each other, it just sounds ridiculous.  Les Miserables has the same problem but there are tons of large scale numbers, like I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, or A Heart Full of Love, to break apart the monotony.  However, this musical seems like it has no distinct songs and everything seems to be sung in the same melody.

Still, it is hard not to smile at this movie.  The film is completely gorgeous, from the sets to the pretty Catherine Deneuve (her character claims she does not wear any make up which is such bull by the way).  It is also ridiculously melodramatic, so it is difficult not to laugh and enjoy yourself.

Can we just take a moment to talk about what a stupid business idea an umbrella shop is?  I mean, you would never get returning customers because how many umbrellas does one person really need?  I have one that I rarely use because I lack the foresight to see if it is raining before I go outside.  And even if I did buy one, I wouldn't go to a shop just for umbrellas.  I have heard better business ideas from the Real Housewives.

Anyway, I have watched other Jacques Demy musicals and this one pales in comparison.  However, it was still worth a watch.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

References Lola, an earlier film of Jacques Demy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

416. Scorpio Rising

Scorpio Rising
Directed by Kenneth Anger

Ugh, can we not, please?  These experimental films are sapping my life force.  Terrible, just terrible.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Kenneth Anger provided all the nazi paraphernalia himself.  Um...

Direct influence of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch.

415. Goldfinger

Directed by Guy Hamilton

I knew the day would come on this blog where I would have to confess to loving the chauvinistic, often sexist James Bond movies.  I just didn't think it would come so soon.  I have actually seen every one of these movies and have read all the books. I still maintain that George Lazenby was the best Bond but that's a topic for another time.

The plots of these movies are never important.  I say that to make myself feel better because I can never follow any of the plots.  Basically, Bond sleeps with women, both straight and gay, while saving the world from villains and making bad puns.

Why do I have so much fun with these movies?  They are extremely offensive to both women and Asians.  I remember one film where Bond had to dress as Japanese guy and the transformation was not..um... PC.  I suppose I should just base my review on this one film but it is hard for them not to all blur together.

I am not a huge action movie fan; I find them all to be exactly the same.  But this film is the inventor of the cliches and does them better than any movie since.  I especially appreciated this movie in the context of the list, since we have so many dull, but "artsy" films.  This is just a fun film that will make you laugh and keep you interested.  One of my many, many guilty pleasures.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Honor Blackman is the oldest woman to have played a Bond girl to date.

Body count of 62.


414. The Servant

The Servant
Directed by Joseph Losey

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope everyone had a great holiday like I did (I walked away with puzzles and a portrait of James Marsters so I did quite well).  Let's all talk about more terrible movies, shall we?

It is clear from the very beginning what the purpose of this film is.  The servant becomes the master, the master becomes the servant, etc.  Unfortunately, it's pretty dull.

Tony hires Hugo to be his manservant.  Hugo also gets his lover/pretend sister hired as a maid.  Tony's girlfriend hates Hugo, but he doesn't listen, presumably because bitches be cray.

I will give credit where credit is due.  The acting was absolutely fantastic.  Dirk Bogarde was incredibly creepy and did a fantastic job of being both insidious and a gentleman.  I think there were lots of homosexual undertones in the novel that were completely lost on film.  This is unfortunate, because that probably would have made the story a lot more interesting.

The characters' actions were completely improbable and the story was poorly paced.  Thumbs down.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Dirk Bogarde took over as a director when Losey fell ill.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

413. Yukinojo Henge

Yukinojo Henge
An Actor's Revenge
Directed by Kon Ichikawa

Okay, what the fuck.

I don't think I have ever been so confused about the plot in a movie.  It got to the point where I didn't know what gender the characters were.  I would blame it on my hilariously awful subtitles (I think at one point someone announced that there was an "elephant wall" and because no one acted alarmed, that is probably a bit off) but I have been able to follow plots even without dialogue before.  I tried to look to The Book for some clarification about what was going on but it just further confused me by saying that the director threw in distorted visuals and cartoon bubbles.  What??  When did that happen? How did I miss that?  Was I high?

Usually when I fail this hard at watching a film (which you might be surprised to learn is something you can fail at but I have learned that I can pretty much fail at anything, no matter how simple it is), I would try to watch it again, but mine seems like the best version you can get for a reasonable price.

So I earned my checkmark for the list, but honestly I am walking away completely baffled.

RATING: ***--(???)

Interesting Facts:

Tribute to actor Kazuo Hasegawa.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

412. The Haunting

The Haunting
Directed by Robert Wise

Yay! A horror film!

I want to start by saying that this film did not scare me even a little bit.  The writer for this entry of The Book advised not watching it alone.  I am sorry, SJS, but you kind of sound like a wimp.  Although I suppose we all have films that scare the living daylights out of us but other people are completely immune to (this is particularly embarrassing when everyone leaves a friend's house to go to the cars after watching The Blair Witch Project but you won't leave the house without an armed escort).

However, I think a horror film can still be enjoyable even if it is not scary.  This film kind of follows the usual formula that we have now for found footage films, although, of course, this movie invented the cliche.  Dr. Markway wants to investigate the haunted Hill House and brings a lesbian psychic, the heir to the house, and, for some reason, a girl who looks like she would wet herself if she talked to a stranger.  Strange stuff goes down and Meek McGaspy begins to lose her shit.

We have had quite a few films that hail from Dullsville lately so I was really grateful to watch such an entertaining movie that had great pacing.  Now, the acting wasn't great; the exception being Russ Tamblyn, who I love.  But I still think it is worth a watch for anyone who loves horror films.  If you don't, better skip it.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Remade in 1999 with Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson, and Liam Nesson.  Yikes.

Robert Wise has said that this film is a tribute to his mentor Val Lewton.


411. Khaneh Siah Ast

Khaneh Siah Ast
The House Is Black
Directed by Forugh Farrokhzad

It was hard to find a picture for this post that wasn't really disturbing.  You see, this is a film about a leper colony in Iran so it got pretty gross.  Fortunately, I took a forensic anthropology class is college so I have seen more disgusting things (wait, did I seriously preface that with fortunately?).  Also, for those with weak stomachs, not only is it only around 20 minutes long, but it is also highly doubtful that you will ever see this film.

I actually saw it quite awhile ago because a fellow blogger warned me that it was difficult to find so I figured the earlier I started looking for it, the better.  I found it quite easily online and will post the link down in the Interesting Facts section, though I can't guarantee that it will work forever.

What I liked about this movie is that it never got sappy.  Like I said, it is a documentary on a colony of lepers, but it never gets overtly sentimental.  However, it is hard to have a real opinion on such a short film.  I actually haven't thought about it too much until I sat down to write this post.  It is over so quickly that it is hard to make a huge impression.

So is it worth seeking out?  I don't know about that but it is not a complete waste of time.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Only film that Forough directed before her death.

Forough became attached to two leper children and adopted them.

Full movie:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

410. Mediterranee

Directed by Jean Daniel Pollett

I had the strangest feeling while I was watching this film that I had seen it before.  My brain is probably slowly turning into mush since I consume so much fiction so I figured that I had probably watched the movie before and had completely forgotten about it.  However, I then checked my handy check list and it turns out I hadn't seen it.  I guess I just got that feeling since this movie is exactly the same as many of the experimental films we have been forced to endure.

The movie has no plot and is actually just filled with random images, the most prominent being an upsetting bull fight and a girl on an operating table.

Maybe it was because it was only forty five minutes but I actually didn't completely hate it at a level 10 level (I've had to categorize my hate degrees after watching so many bad movies).  I found myself mildly interested at the images on the screen and it was actually a pretty beautiful film, albeit a bit disturbing.  But dreams have a tendency to be disturbing and that is what this movie reminded me of.  Still, I need a plot to be able to ever consider a movie a favorite.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Zero facts about this movie on the internet, sorry!

Available on YouTube:

409. Vidas Secas

Vidas Secas
Barren Lives
Directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos

The Italian neorealism movement translated to a Brazilian setting.  Oh Lord, help us all.

Every Brazilian movie that I have seen from The List has mostly been about how much it sucks to be Brazilian.  This film is no exception as it follows the lives of a poor family trying to find work.  They eventually do find work but everything ends up going to hell anyway.  Oh yeah and the director tries to  exploit our sentimental side in the cheapest way possible (hint: the dog did not receive top billing).

I guess my biggest complaint about this movie is that, sadly, the story of a poor family struggling is very unoriginal.  The List, at least, has shown us this plot around fifteen times.  Grapes of Wrath and Pather Panchali come to mind (though at least the former had good acting and the latter had beautiful cinematography).  I suppose I should just be looking at this movie individually, but it was hard not to be bored when I basically knew everything that was going to happen during the opening credits.

Have I been too harsh lately?  I might try to relax a bit more during the next film.  But until then...

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Based on a story by Graciliano Ramos.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

408. Il Gattopardo

Il Gattopardo
The Leopard
Directed by Luchino Visconti

We have hit a string of movies that I have never even heard of, let alone seen which is why the reviews have been pretty sporadic as of late.  However, with the holidays coming up expect to see a lot of posts coming your way.

So like I said, I had never heard of this movie before so I was shocked when I researched it and realized that it is one of the most acclaimed films of all time.  Where the hell have I been?  I am ashamed that I called myself a film buff!

Okay, so here is another secret.  I thought the film was really dull.  Don't get me wrong; it was completely beautiful.  You can look at the above picture and see that it is a movie filled with vibrant sets and gorgeous colors.  So technically and cinematically beautiful?  Of course.  Story wise? Eh...

You will notice that there is no plot summary here.  That is because I was so bored that I really didn't know what was going on.  I would space out for about thirty minutes and then I would check out the internet to see what I missed.  However, there are very few plot summaries on this movie which does not bode well for the lazy viewer.  Hey, if I am going to be guilted into watching this film, at least help me out.

Okay, so I take full responsibility for this one.  I should have paid more attention and not playing with my gummy bears and making them act out stories.  This will definitely be one that I have to come back to when the list is over.  But for now..

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Visconti initially bullied Burt Lancaster on set since he wasn't his first choice for the role.  However, once Lancaster stood up to him in front of everyone, they developed a close friendship.

Warren Beatty, Laurence Olivier, and Marlon Brando were all considered for roles.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

407. Shock Corridor

Shock Corridor
Directed by Samuel Fuller

You would think that during the Thanksgiving holiday break I would have lots of time to watch movies but I have had so much work to do that I almost brought a hot flash on myself (and I am way too young for that).  However, I decided to take a break and watch this fun movie which was a very welcome break after watching so many "serious" movies.

Johnny Barett wants to simultaneously solve a murder at a mental hospital and win a Pulitzer prize.  To do this, he asks his stripper girlfriend to tell the police that she is his sister and that he has tried to rape her.  Lucky for him, they decide to send him to the asylum (he really rolled the dice on that one).   Among the inhabitants of the hospital including an extremely fat guy who sings opera right in your face while you are trying to sleep and a guy who thinks he is a soldier from the Civil War.

I had a lot of fun with this movie but let's start with the bad.  Every once awhile a character's thoughts would be shown.  Although I think this is a bit of a lazy technique, I have no problem with that device. However, the movie would switch to a character's thoughts in the middle of a conversation.  It was a little bit jolting and random.

Still, I love this movie.  I thought the story was extremely intriguing.  It would have been interesting enough watching a sane person go to a mental hospital, but we also get a great murder mystery.  It was also fascinating watching Barett's girlfriend deal with having to tell a police officer that her boyfriend is a sexually aggressive psychopath.

Another gem that I never would have discovered with The Book.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Referenced in The Dreamers and Naked Kiss.

Available on YouTube:

Monday, November 25, 2013


I just realized that Mediterranee was not actually the next movie on the list.  I didn't have my book with me so I trusted the internet to tell me (I wonder how many confessions of failures have started with "I trusted the internet"...) what the next movie was and it didn't pan out.  I reverted the post back to draft format and will post it again when I actually reach that film.  Until I watch the actual next movie on the list, you will just have to pine for me as you read The Great Escape post over and over again.  Sorry!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

406. The Great Escape

The Great Escape
Directed by John Sturges

So I am now convinced that this cold is just a part of who I am and will almost certainly never go away.    At the very least, it has allowed me to watch a ton of movies.  And after a string of um, questionable films we finally get to one that I enjoyed.  Get ready for a rave, ladies and gentlemen.

This film is based on the true story of the escape of Allied prisoners from Stalag Luft III during World War II.  I actually remember someone doing a presentation on the accuracy of this movie in high school and making a mental note to watch it.  That was…never mind how many years ago but I finally got to it.  See, I didn't forget, Sean Miller aka the guy who had no idea I existed.

Most war films seem to all be the same, especially Vietnam films (I am so not looking forward to that era), so I tend to get bored with them quite easily.  This movie, however, completely blew away.  Going through the checklist, we get great actors, great dialogue, and great action.

It is the sworn duty of all Allied officers to constantly try to escape, over and over again, no matter how many times they are caught and punished.  This put a really interesting twist on the formulaic prison escape genre (I say that lovingly since I am obsessed with those movies).  The standard is switched; it is weird if you don't have numerous amounts of escape attempts to your name.

Every scene is done beautifully and it is all the more fascinating since it is based on a true story.  A must see.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Steve McQueen performed most of his own stunts.

Charles Bronson fell in love with David McCallum's wife during production.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

405. Flaming Creatures

Flaming Creatures
Directed by Jack Smith

Well, it isn't the first time The Book has forced me to watch porn and unfortunately, it probably won't be the last.

Now, I know the majority of the population would not consider forty five minutes of porn a punishment; some might even consider it a reward.  But hey, I am a young woman and the closest I ever get is Buffy fan fiction.  All right, maybe this is getting to an uncomfortable place.  I will move on.

My point is that calling this art is just giving validation to some creep who gets off on filming women pretending to get raped.  I don't even what to delve into the psychology of that one.  And it also provides him an easy out: if someone doesn't like it, they either don't get it or are prissy prudes.

Okay, so let's just ignore the content of the film for a second.  The shoddy filmmaking (again people might plead artistic choice here) is just terrible.  I could barely here what was being said and I think someone forgot to adjust the iris (see picture above).

Yes, Jack Smith shocked his audience with this one.  But it is so easy to shock people (I could take off all my clothes and make bird calls in a grocery store and achieve the same effect) but it is not so easy to make a good film.  Next.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Determined by the NY Criminal Court to be obscene.

Banned in 22 states and 4 countries.

Monday, November 11, 2013

404. Nattvardsgasterna

Winter Light
Directed by Ingmar Bergman

The entire northern United States (which unfortunately includes me) is suffering from a cold that possesses an unrelenting determination that could rival the Terminator's.  And now that it is Monday I get the added guilt that comes with staying home on a weekday.  Well, at least I get to watch a good movie, albeit one with a complete nightmare of a name.  Wait, it's a Bergman film? Oh crap.

Bergman is like the blowhard at that party who just won't shut up about religion and is completely indifferent to the fact that it is not his provocativeness that is making everyone around him uncomfortable, but the dullness of his diatribe.  So just tack on my Bergman is Boring mantra to everything I say from now on.

This is the story of a priest who loses his faith, which in turn, causes others to lose their faith.  Except in the case of Marta, who is already an atheist and is portrayed as a complete loon who won't get the hint that the priest is not interested.  I am no expert on men, but I am pretty sure if you are trying to attract one, you don't keep talking about the rash you have.  But hey, that is just my two cents.

I think your interpretation of this film is going to depend heavily on your own religious beliefs.  If you are Christian, and I do believe Bergman was, you are presumably going to feel sorry for this man that he longer has a god.  I am an atheist, but I can understand that a priest losing his religion would no doubt be tragic; after all, realizing that you have dedicated your life to something you no longer believe in would no doubt be terrible.  Most of the time, the movie allows you to form your own conclusions.  However, having someone blow their brains out because they no longer believe there is a god is a bit of a push toward the more conservative side of things.

The agonizingly long takes, the sentimental religious themes, and the fact that no one cracks a smile during the entire movie: it all so very Bergman.  And I am so very tired of it.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Ingmar Bergman's wife called the film "a dreary masterpiece."

Second film in Bergman's trilogy on religion.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

403. Hud

Directed by Martin Ritt

I came down with a bad case of laryngitis and have completely lost my voice (which no doubt pleases several people).  Anyway, I took to bed and decided that a little Paul Newman would a sight for sore eyes.  Or in my case, a sight for a sore throat.

Hud has had a terrible relationship with his father ever since his brother was killed in a car accident when Hud was driving.  Once Hud's father's, Homer's, cattle are struck with foot and mouth disease, Hud is back in both his father's and his nephew's life.  Oh yeah and then Hud tries to rape the maid but she forgives him because she would have had sex with him anyway!  Um, okay?

So I don't have too much to say about this film partly because my throat is on fire and I just want to go to sleep.  I really just didn't get the point of it.  Were we supposed to think that underneath Hud's rough, rapist exterior he was a good man?  Were we supposed to feel sorry for him that he drove away anyone who ever loved him?  Or were we supposed to sympathize with the other characters because no matter what they did, Hud was always the same hateful guy?  I don't really care about the answers to any of these questions, though, because I found the movie to be quite dull and the pacing way too slow.

So not a great film but Paul Newman, as always, was fantastic so it is worth a watch.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Newman played the character Hud like a villain but many people consider Hud to be a hero.

So that this post was a bit half assed.  How many more times can I use the sick excuse?

Monday, October 28, 2013

402. Le Mepris

Le Mepris
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

This is a film that I dreaded watching mostly because I was under the impression that it would be another pretentious French New Wave drama that would have me either falling asleep or searching for the nearest ledge.  However, while I can't say it was a favorite, there were certain components of this film that make it a must see.

First of all, the film was absolutely gorgeous.  The scenes showing the ocean and the mountains were of course beautiful but I am also taking about interior sets, such as Paul and Camille's apartment.  I don't know if it was the dazzling colors or the European architecture but I just wanted to keep staring at the screen; I didn't even care what was happening plot wise.

This was actually a good thing, since not a whole lot happened here.  A film producer hires Paul to rework the script of a movie that he originally gave to Fritz Lang (played by himself).  After Paul's wife, Camille, meets the producer she becomes remarkably cold towards her husband.  Or maybe cold isn't the right word; bitchy would be more correct since she calls him an asshole for no apparent reasons amidst ordinary conversation.  I was actually feeling sorry for the guy until he slapped her.  Then I was just kind of annoyed with both of them.

All right, let's get me criticisms over with, shall we?  First of all, the scene at their apartment after their meeting with Jeremy was ridiculously long and mostly consisted of Paul asking Camille if she wanted to go to Capri and Camille giving noncommittal answers.  By the end of the scene I just wanted to yell at the screen "someone make a fucking decision about Capri or I will!" Granted that threat is much pretty nonsense, but I meant it at the time.

Additionally, I started out thinking the music was very beautiful but then I ended up getting sick of it playing off and on every four seconds.  It was a nice score, I just wish that it was used more sparingly.

I am rambling on, aren't I?  It's funny, a fellow blogger just complimented me on my blog by saying I never ramble.  Kind of dropped the ball on that one.

I will wrap it up by saying that it was a gorgeous movie with lots of film references which is always fun for a 1001er.  Still, I think it could have been trimmed down a bit (probably what you are thinking right now about my review).

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Lang was virtually blind at the time this film was made.

Godard hated making this film.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

401. Pasazerka

The Passenger
Directed by Andrzej Munk

First of all, 401!  Some might say that is an even milestonier milestone than 400 since now we only have a solid 600 to go. Very exciting stuff happening here.

Anyway, the task of watching this film was problematic, bordering on a complete disaster.  For one thing, this film is extremely hard to find, let alone find with English subtitles.  I ended up failing on the second part.  Additionally, my headphones haven't been working lately and only play dialogue if they are twisted in a very specific way.  It almost never plays lyrics on my phone when I bring up a song so it is kind of like having my own karaoke machine.  Now, I guess it didn't matter too much because I couldn't understand what they were saying anyway, but it still would have been nice to have sound.  So yeah, I ended up watching a silent film that was actual incomplete because the director died halfway through filming.  It was a good time.

Luckily, there were a few sites on the internet that allowed me to at least have a basic idea of what was going on.  This is the story of an SS officer who befriends and attempts to help a woman at Auschwitz.

This film is only an hour long and even with my unique…situation I still didn't get too bored.  I don't think I want to try to find it with subtitles (the filmmaking didn't blow me away) but not a complete waste of time.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Munk died in a car accident on his way back from filming one day.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

400. 8 1/2

8 1/2
Directed by Federico Fellini


It is not hard for me to believe I have watched 400 movies.  In fact, I have probably seen about 830 of the films in The Book.  However, I find it crazy that I have written 400 reviews.  And people (granted not a lot of people) actually want to read them?  Totally insane.

Unfortunately, we must kick off the 400s with this boring as hell film.  This is, I believe, the fifth Fellini film I have reviewed and my complaint has always been the sad: dull, dull, dull.  Sorry I don't have more insightful views on the movies but hey, give me break: it is hard to be original 400 times.

This is the story of Guido Anselmi, a filmmaker who is suffering from…film block?  Whatever the director version of writer's block is.  The movie is comprised of almost surreal flashbacks which makes it kind of hard to follow along.  At least, hard to follow along when you keep falling asleep in the middle of it which is what kept happening with me.

I had seen the remake of this film, Nine, and wasn't that impressed. Although at least that version had some great actresses, whereas in this movie the acting was only subpar.

Overall, I don't think Fellini will ever impress me.  Just think, you only have to hear me complain about boring directors 601 times.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Federico Fellini attached a note that said "Remember this is a comedy" on his camera.  Yeah it was really laughs aplenty…

Fellini's favorite film.  Not only of his own work, but of anyone's work.  Take it down a notch, Fellini.  You are not that great!

399. The Cool World

The Cool World
Directed by Shirley Clarke

Up until today I had never heard about this film and I am guessing that most of you haven't either.  This is a semi documentary and you would think that if it was really influential, it would be more famous.  Still, it was a semi fun watch but nothing that I would recommend.

This film follows the Royal Pythons which is a street gang in Harlem.  Most of the movie centers on the character Duke, who wants to get a gun so he can become the leader of the gang.

Let's start with the positives.  It was interesting how Harlem seemed completely detached from the United States, like it had its own set of rules.  It seemed like whoever had the biggest gun was the leader and no one had any hope of getting out.  Needless to say, it wasn't exactly an uplifting watch.

Now with the negatives.  First of all, I could have chopped some time off the film.  It got a little tedious toward the end.  Additionally, and this is probably because I watched it in 2013, there was no shock factor here and the movie had nothing that I hadn't seen before.

So an obscure film and obscure for a reason.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

A lot of the cast members were actual members of the Royal Python gang.

Friday, October 18, 2013

398. Blonde Cobra

Blonde Cobra
Directed by Ken Jacobs

Wow, I really thought it could not get any worse than The Nutty Professor but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Now, just as frequent readers could have guessed I would not be jumping for joy at the prospect of another Jerry Lewis movie, you probably knew that I was going to hate this one.  Therefore, I will keep it short and sweet so I have time to contemplate my predictability.

This film is probably one of the worst quality movies I have ever seen so it would have been painful to watch even if there was a semi interesting plot.  Fortunately, most of the movie all we seen is a black screen while Jack Smith whines about his childhood and various kinds of penises he has come across in an annoying falsetto.  The only redeeming quality in this film is the fact that it is only thirty three minutes.  Still a complete waste of time, though.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

I did not find any trivia when I googled this one.  Tons of negative reviews came up so I suppose I am not that original in my opinions.  Damn, I need to work on my shock factor.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

397. The Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor
Directed by Jerry Lewis

Most people know the movie The Nutty Professor as, well, this:
Unfortunately, the truth is much more disturbing.  Well, it is October here so you might have been expecting some degree of horror on the blog.

The Book continues to torture us with Jerry Lewis movies.  I have no idea why.  Jerry Lewis is a cultural icon, so I understand having one film on the list.  But to continue to make me watch these films is such a gross exploitation of power!  Anyway, hopefully this is the last one…

Jerry Lewis does a funny voice and crosses his eye a lot acts and directs in this film.  He is a nerd who aspires to be loved by one of his students, Stella.  He develops a drug that makes him into a more attractive jackass.  And since women love jackasses, it works!  And in one scene he dresses up like a baby and does a baby voice.

Just ugh.  The only reason I am giving it a couple stars is because it was never that boring or outright offensive.  My bar has become considerably lower after watching so many movies.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Buddy Love was rumored to be a spoof of Dean Martin.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

396. The Birds

The Birds
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

A frequent reader of the blog might be getting sick of me gushing over Hitchcock.  Unfortunately, you will have to endure some more fangirling on this post, but don't worry: both Marnie and Frenzy pissed me off a bit.

Anyway, the plot for this movie is pretty simple but completely brilliant.  For a reason that is never explained, birds start attacking everyone.  I blame this film for my fear of pigeons.  I have also had frequent dreams where I have to battle birds.  But let's shelf my weirdness for now.

This is a great thriller that borders on horror without ever crossing the line (except for one scene where they should two people with their eyes gauged out, but my sister always covered my eyes for that part so no worries).  Tippi Hedren is great in this movie, probably because after working with Hitchcock, she knew what it felt like to be terrorized.

I was glad that we were never given a reason why the birds started attacking everyone.  The best they probably could have come up with anyway would probably be some disease or radiation, which would have ruined a great action film with a lame explanation.

Another great Hitchcock and probably one of my favorites.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Speakers were put in the trees that emitted screeching bird noises to scare the audience outside of the UK film premiere.

HITCHCOCK RADAR: At the beginning of the film, walking out of the pet shop.

Hedren had several injuries from the bird attacks during the filming of the movie.


395. Heaven and Earth Magic

Heaven and Earth Magic
Directed by Harry Smith

Oh come on.  Really?  Really??

Harry Smith spends about an hour using cut out animation to…well I really don't know what his purpose was.  There was no story and nothing about this film was that beautiful so I guess he just felt like being weird.  Well, keep it to yourself buddy.

That was just stupid and a waste of space in The Book.  I am just annoyed thinking about this so I will end the review there.  If anyone enjoyed this movie, please leave a comment and explain to me why.

RATING: *---- (I am giving it one because it wasn't disgusting and unfortunately, I must make that distinction since The Book has grossed me out many, many times)

Interesting Facts:

Just watch a couple seconds of it and slam your laptop closed in disgust:

394. Vivre Sa Vie: Film en Douze Tableaux

Vivre Sa Vie: Film en Douze Tableaux
My Life to Live
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

We are getting closer and closer to the 400 milestone!  I know 6 is a weird time to start a countdown…but screw it, start the countdown!

This is the story of Nana (does every woman named Nana have to be a prostitute? Cross that off the baby name list) who decides to leave her husband and son to become an actress.  Her plans go awry and she ends up being a hooker.  So it goes.

I love a good story when someone who lives a completely ordinary existence comes completely out of their shell.  Of course, there are the Disney versions of that story and The Purple Rose of Cairo versions of those stories.  This one falls into the more unfortunate category and it is actually quite sad.

Well, I should say that it is meant to be sad.  It was hard for me to feel anything but contempt for the selfish Nana who leaves her infant son without a mother because she did not plan her life better.  Bitch.

I have my usual complaint here with Godard; he just is not great at keeping me entertained, even if he has a good story.  I was bored for a lot of this movie and even the action packed ending had me yawning.

Overall, I could have skipped this one but we have certainly seen worse.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Divided into 12 "episodes".

Referenced in Pulp Fiction.

References The Searchers, The Hustler, Jules et Jim, and Spartacus.


393. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
Directed by Robert Aldrich

I remember watching this movie alone in my house when I was younger and quickly realizing that I had made a horrible mistake.  I then stopped it until my mom came home and she was just as frightened as I was when she sat down to watch it with me.  This film is creepy as hell but a great movie to watch with Halloween coming up!

Baby Jane Hudson was a big star child while her sister was largely was largely overlooked.  That changed when they became older and Blanche became the glamorous star while all of Jane's movies were commercial failures.  A mysterious accident left Blanche crippled and entirely dependent on her crazy sister who is pretty much a more delusional Annie Wilkes.

So like I said, this movie is creepy as all get out.  The worst moment for me was when Jane just laughs and laughs after serving her sister a cooked rat.  My sister was terrified by the bird's eye view shot of Blanche knocking herself off the walls in her wheelchair.  And, of course, when there are dolls of any kind involved everything gets ten times scarier.

Everyone knows about the famous Davis and Crawford dispute and although it must have been hell to work with them, the hate and jealousy that they had for each other was perfect for their characters.

So one of my favorite horror films and one that might get another viewing this coming Halloween!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for this film.  Joan Crawford heavily supported Anne Bancroft for the win out of spite.

Bette Davis said that she imagined Jane would never remove her make up and would just keep adding layer after layer to make herself look younger.  This is the look that is in the film.

Hold on to your butts, as Samuel Jackson would say. Trailer:

392. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Directed by John Ford

This is one of my favorite westerns of all time and even though both Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne are getting a little too old for their roles, this is a perfect film.

Lee Marvin, in typical Lee Marvin jackass fashion, is Liberty Valance, an outlaw who is killed after a gunfight with Stoddard (Stewart).  Stoddard must deal with the notoriety that comes with having killed a man and does his best to make it in politics and get the girl as well.

In the past, I have been hard on Wayne for his wooden performances but he actually is spectacular in this film as a character who is slowly losing everything but still has a good heart.  And you don't get a better bad guy than Lee Marvin; he is easier to hate than all the Real Housewives put together!

A brilliant film and one that needs to be seen by everyone.  Sorry for the short review but I have about five of these to crank out and I want to catch up on all my blogs today.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

First time John Wayne calls someone pilgrim.  Family guy anyone?

Filmed on a soundstage.

Was shot in black and white to hide Wayne's and Stewart's ages.


391. O Pagador de Promessas

O Pagador de Promessas
Keeper of Promises
Directed by Anselmo Duarte

The main character's best friend is a donkey.  I am sorry, but as soon as I realized that, I had a hard time enjoying this movie.  I mean, this isn't a Disney film and I am not even sure that the donkey and Ze were…platonic.  Then they added in a bunch of religious elements and that was it for me.

Ze vows that if someone saves Eeyore he will give away his land and carry a cross to a church in Bahia.  But the priest at the church doesn't want the cross which I guess makes Ze a hero?  I really don't know.

Okay, so I will admit that the parts about the Catholic Church really interested me.  I have always been intrigued about the exploitations of the Catholic Institution (I even wrote a paper on it once).  Watching some of the characters interact with each other was pretty upsetting; in fact, my favorite character turned out to be the ass.

I don't have too much to say about this film.  It was pretty dull but I suppose it did get somewhat of a reaction from me, which is all a movie can really hope to do.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

First Brazilian film to be nominated by the Academy.

On YouTube:

Monday, September 30, 2013

390. Lolita

Directed by Stanley Kubrik

I saw this film awhile ago when I was going through my Maybe-I-Should-Give-Stanley-Kubrik-A-Chance-And-Not-Just-Write-Him-Off-As-The-Most-Boring-Director-Known-To-Man phase.  And while I didn't hate this film, it is certainly not a favorite.

This story is based off of everyone's (especially the Russians) favorite premise: older man falls in love with a really young girl.  One of my all time favorite movies, American Beauty, is also based on this story, although Sam Mendes does it a lot better than Kubrick.  However, that is a story for a different time.

The movie's tagline is "how did they ever make a movie out of Lolita?"  Well, they did it, just not very well.  Now, this isn't necessarily anyone's fault; the censors were so strict that they couldn't even really suggest a sexual relationship between Lolita and Humbert.  But that fact is without those clues, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on.  It seemed to me that Humbert just acted as a father to her, albeit while he repressed his sexual desire for her.  But did he suppress it?  Who knows.

So maybe Kubrick's hands were tied when it came to telling their story.  But there are ways around the censors.  Do we all remember the end of The Thin Man?

Add to the fact that this was supposed to be a dark comedy and I didn't find any of it remotely funny and we have a film that I did not enjoy in the slightest.  I do love me some James Mason, though.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

800 girls auditioned for the role of Lolita.

Sue Lyon was chosen for the role mostly because she had large breasts.

Cary Grant was offered the role of Humbert Humbert first.


389. The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate
Directed by John Frankenheimer

For some reason, I love movies that have freaky moms.  I find scary mothers more frightening than anything in the horror genre.  Probably why I still can't take a shower in a shower that has a curtain.  In any case, this was a great movie: chilling, exciting, and well acted.

This is the story of Raymond Shaw, who is brainwashed into becoming an assassin any time someone asks him to play solitaire.  We also get a great performance out of Sinatra as Captain Marco, Raymond's platoon commander that begins to suspect that something is seriously wrong with him.

I haven't seen a really good movie in awhile and now that I have I am having trouble organizing my thoughts.  Like I said, the acting is just fantastic: Angela Lansbury as Raymond's sociopathic mother is truly frightening.  This isn't meant to be a horror film, but I certainly got freaked out when Mrs. Shaw would come on the screen.  We also get great set design; even looking at the above picture you see that the whole film is kind of surrealist; it gives the impression that you aren't even safe in your own mind.

And, of course, there is a political message here as well as the right winged politicians who wildly accuse random people of communism in order to elevate themselves in politics are shown to be complete psychopaths.

A fantastic movie and I will definitely have to check out the remake.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

The army doctor in this film was the first time a black actor was cast for a role that wasn't specifically written for a black person.

An incestuous relationship between Raymond and his mother is heavily implied.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

388. To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird
Directed by Robert Mulligan

I think everyone in the United States was forced to read this book in high school and some of us were even forced to watch this movie in class.  I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, but it never left too much of an impression on me.  However, this is a great movie and one of the rare cases where I enjoyed a movie more than the book.

This is probably due to Gregory Peck, who gives a great performance as Atticus Finch.  I will say there is a fair amount of cheese in this movie, but that is to be expected in a film that has children as the main characters.

I am not even bothering with a plot summary here, partly because everyone has read this book and partly because I have to leave soon.

One more thing before I go: I always thought the book could have been trimmed down a bit and I think the movie does a great job of keeping the pace interesting.  Definitely a great movie; wish we could see more of Robert Mulligan.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

James Stewart turned down the role of Atticus, thinking the film was too left wing and therefore too controversial.

AFI voted Atticus Finch as the best screen hero of the last 100 years.

Debut of Robert Duvall.

387. Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia
Directed by David Lean

I remember when my sister first saw this movie in a film analysis class she said it was the most boring movie of all time and it was a constant struggle to stay awake.  Naturally, I dreaded it and since my sister are pretty much the same person, I hated it too.

I feel like I have been saying that every movie lately is horribly boring.  This makes me seem like I am not easily entertained.  I assure you that is not the case; a rubber pencil can keep me entertained fora half hour.  However, this is another snorefest but at least that is a popular opinion.

This is the story of T. E. Lawrence's life during World War I.  Blah blah blah.  I don't know if it was the length or the subject matter but I fell asleep twice during viewing.  And if I hadn't been watching the time the entire film, I wouldn't have noticed.

That being said, this is a beautiful movie.  You can just see from the above picture how fantastic the colors look in this film.

There, I gave it some praise so I don't completely fail.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

No women in the film have speaking roles.

Movement mostly goes from left to right.

Steven Spielberg's favorite film.

386. L'eclisse

The Eclipse
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

When I sat down with this movie last night alone with a bowl of Easy Mac and Pringles, I thought it was going to be a great evening.  Hm, maybe I will cut out that first sentence since it is beyond pathetic.  So, big shocker, Antonioni produces another major snore and once again, I am wishing that I had never seen any of his movies.

The story starts with Vittoria breaking up with Riccardo, saying that she doesn't love him anymore.
I could have done this scene in maybe like three minutes but with all the awkward pauses, it lasted a lot longer than that.  Also, none of these actors have any chemistry.  At one point, one of the guys says "I am going to kiss you now" in the same tone you would say "I have to go get a root canal".  But I digress.  Anyway, she falls in love (I think) with Piero.  Oh yeah and there is a really racist scene which I think is a tiny bit self aware, but I am not sure.

I really wish we would just be finished with this director because I am getting sick of the feeble "I was really bored"  defense.  However, in this film I can point to the acting as well.  I felt like they were zombies moving on the screen.  Now, I understand Vittoria's depression and as that is something I have struggled with, I realized that the actress isn't exactly going to be dancing around during the film.  However, her portrayal was not at all interesting and just because you make no facial expressions doesn't mean you are a good actress.

I would have to say the most fascinating part of this movie is when Vittoria picks up a pen with a woman on it.  Depending on how you hold it, the girl changes outfits.  I would have rather watched that pen for two hours.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

According to Martin Scorsese, this is the boldest movie in the trilogy.  Oh come on.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

385. Sanma no aji

Sanma no aji
An Autumn Afternoon
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Today we are finishing the Ozu movies, which for me is a relief since I find most of his movies quite dull.  I apologize for not writing sooner but since I no longer have DVDs sent to me through Netflix, getting some of these films has been a bit of a challenge.

I really wish I was the kind of person who enjoyed this movies.  In The Elegance of the Hedgehog, the main character drinks tea as she watches Floating Weeds.  I guess I am 0 for 2 because I hate tea.  My version would be drinking Diet Coke while watching Taratino movies.  That is a lot less poetic.

Anyway, this is the story of Shuhei and his children.  Shuhei has a drinking problem and ends up relying heavily on his daughter for support, even though everyone encourages him to marry her off.  Shuhei also has a son who is a total leech, but that is more of a subplot.

The main reason I disliked this movie would count as a spoiler and since I don't have spoilers on this site, I have to refrain from mentioning it.  This, of course, makes for a somewhat crappy review.  I guess I can add that the movie relies heavily on dialogue and there is very little plot here.  While I find that acceptable when the dialogue blows me away, I just was not that impressed.

So we say farewell to Ozu, who was never really my cup of Diet Coke.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The camera remains completely static throughout the movie.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

384. Dog Star Man

Dog Star Man
Directed by Stan Brakhage

This is kind of a weird landmark for me.  This is the last movie that one of my favorite 1001 bloggers, Francisco Silva, reviewed before he stopped blogging.  Ah, the eternal question.  What happens to a blogger when there are no more posts?  Anyway, he was the only other 1001 blogger that I have seen who reviewed these movies chronologically.  If anyone knows of any other 1001 film blog that goes in order, could you please drop me a comment?  Actually, I am open to reading any 1001 blog but it would be interesting to find a kindred spirit.  Moving on!

Now, I only watched Part 1 of this disaster because that is all The Book required of me and probably all that I could have stood.  This is a completely silent movie (although a lot of YouTubers added music which I silenced to get the full effect).  It has no plot and is pretty much a smorgasbord of images that would stay on the screen for two seconds.  It is a good thing I am not prone to seizures.

I do not like experimental films and probably never will so there is not too much to say about this one.  I imagine the result might have been different if I had been on drugs, but I didn't have any weed on me (not that I ever have drugs on me…ahem…ahem).

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Footage was included in the film The Art of Vision, which dissects and explains the movie.

Monday, September 9, 2013

383. Cleo de 5 a 7

Cleo de 5 a 7
Cleo From 5 To 7
Directed by Agnes Varda

This is one of those films where the premise is a lot more interesting than the actual movie.  The idea of a woman wandering Paris while she waits to see if she has cancer actually sounds pretty intriguing.  However, I must confess I was bored for 70% of the film.

I will say that the main actress, Corinne Marchand, is absolutely stunning in this movie and gives a great performance that might have won her an Oscar today.

I don't know what it is about these French New Wave directors, but they seem to be incapable of keeping my attention.  I suppose that means I will not be allowed to enter a stuffy intellectual club any time soon.  Still, I have never been good at faking enthusiasm and most of these movies are dull, dull, dull.  There are notable exceptions of course.

Anyway, I am in one of my complaining moods so I will sign off now.  Great performance, boring film.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Godard makes a cameo appearance in this film.

382. Mondo Cane

Mondo Cane
A Dog's World
Directed by Paolo Cavara

Well that was weird as hell.  And that pretty much is the only point of this film, to gross you out and to possibly disturb you.  Um, okay.  I could achieve the same thing simply by looking up how starfish eat their prey (look it up; it is pretty disgusting) and it wouldn't take an hour and fifty minutes.

There is really no plot to speak of, just a series of odd sequences.  For instance, fishermen get revenge on man-eating sharks by shoving sea urchins in their mouths.  In another part of the film, a woman breast feeds a pig.  Ewwwwwwwwwwww….

At the beginning of the film, the narrator claims that none of these sequences are faked, which is actually complete bull and the whole is very staged.

This is one of the first "shockumentaries"which I suppose is why the title is even including in the 1--1 list (either that or somebody slept with an editor).  Just not my cup of tea and I definitely could have died without seeing this.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Nominated for an Oscar.

Available on YouTube: