Tuesday, April 30, 2013

346. Shadows

Directed by John Cassavetes

I was dreading writing this review because, frankly, I have no idea what happened.  I paid attention for the entire film but I can't really name a single event that took place.  I suppose some would call that a strength, that the film is just a small sampling of life.  I call it boring.

Three siblings live together.  Two of them can pass for white while the other one can't.  I think the problem is that the filmmakers were so intent on pushing boundaries (which to be fair, they did) that they forgot they had to at least sort of try to make a decent film.

The editing is terrible and the script is apparently improvisational.  Strangely enough, the dialogue felt very forced and unnatural.

All that being said, the fact that this film depicted interracial sex is pretty amazing.  I love early films but I have been getting really sick of the production code.

Interesting subject matter, poor execution.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The love scene was shot in Katharine Hepburn's brother's house.

345. Orfeu Negro

Orfeu Negro
Black Orpheus
Directed by Marcel Camus

Well, that was interesting.  Most people know the myth of Orpheus.  This time, though, the story is set in Brazil during carnival time, Orpheus is a jackass, and Eurydice is a home wrecker.

This movie has gotten a lot of criticism because of the way that Brazil is portrayed as a giant dance party.  The costumes, the colors, and the dancing are all quite beautiful, but of course, the release of this film didn't exactly do wonders for breaking stereotypes.

Anyway, like I said, Orpheus is a horrible character in this film, which ruined the entire movie for him. He is engaged to Mira but treats her like crap and won't even buy her an engagement ring because he wants the money for his guitar (she ends up loaning him the money).  He constantly humiliates her in public as well, flirting with other girls and pushing her away.  And, of course, Eurydice is portrayed as this sweet, innocent girl who just happens to be sleeping with a married man.

Add that to the fact that the acting is average at best (Camus used non professionals) and you have a forgettable movie with annoying characters.  Skip it.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Panned in Brazil but won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

344. Ride Lonesome

Ride Lonesome
Directed by Budd Boetticher

This is a western that left absolutely no impression on my mind.  Maybe it is because I have seen dozens and dozens of westerns by now because of the list that it takes something really special to move me.  On with the review but honestly, I don't have too much to say about this.

A bounty hunter is escorting a man into town to be hanged but is pursued by the man's brother.  Oh yeah and there is a dame.

It sounds like I hated this film, but really I didn't.  It was a fun, short ride even with the slightly wooden actors.  The cinematography was quite beautiful; you could tell that Budd was heavily influenced by John Ford.

Still, why it is considered a must see film is a mystery to me. Well, there are worst ways to spend an hour and twelve minutes.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

First film of James Coburn.

343. Les yeux sans visage

Les yeux sans visage
Eyes Without a Face
Directed by Georges Franju

Many moons ago I had a group of friends that I would watch horror movies with every Saturday night. It was a fun tradition; we would rotate houses and take turns picking out the movies.  While they would pick out fun slashers, I would always pick out weird foreign classics.  Soon, I was not allowed to pick out the movies anymore.  However, this is one of the movies we watched.  While it wasn't very scary, I enjoyed it immensely.

A girl loses her face in an accident and her husband attempts to build her a new face by kidnapping girls and taking, um, samples.

The last horror film we had on the list was Dracula, which had a decent amount of gore but is nowhere near this movie.  I don't think I have seen any medical horror films before this and they are actually quite popular nowadays.  A definite innovation.

Like I said, not terribly scary but that girl pictured above definitely gives me the creeps.  French cinema will never stop surprising me.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Franju did not consider this a horror film; instead, it was a film of anguish.

John Carpenter's Michael Myers mask was inspired by this movie.

Seven audience members fainted during one of the premieres of this film.

342. Anatomy of a Murder

Anatomy of a Murder
Directed by Otto Preminger

I put off writing this review for awhile, mostly because I am absolutely in love with this movie.  I can bitch about films rather well, but it is hard for me to write a rave; I feel like I sometimes come across as a gushing fangirl.  However, we will brave our way through this review and hopefully, I will be able to convince everyone to watch this gem asap.

James Stewart plays a small town lawyer named Paul Biegler, who is hired by Laura Manion to defend her husband against a charge of first degree murder. Her husband does not deny that he killed Barney Quill, but claims that Barney raped his wife.

The beauty of this film is that the viewer acts a jury member.  We are never shown what really happened; it is up to us to decide that for ourselves.  Much like in 12 Angry Men, we are not given a flashback sequence where everything is cleared up for us.  We just have to rely on different characters' testimonies and, along with Jimmy Stewart, try to decide if they are telling the truth.

I was also fascinating by the acting.  Of course, James Stewart is fantastic.  However, the minor characters were sometimes great, other times not so much.  Of course, that begs the question: are they bad actors or are the characters bad actors?

This film is two hours and forty minutes and I was not bored for a second of it.  If there is one thing the fifties got right, it's courtroom dramas.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Lee Remick's part was turned down by Lana Turner and Jayne Mansfield.

Stewart's father took out an ad in the local newspaper urging people not to see this movie because he thought it was too dirty.

Included the words bitch, sperm, contraceptive, rape, penetration, panties, and slut.  Bye, bye production code!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

341. Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot
Directed by Billy Wilder

I was stunned when I realized I loved this movie.  I have never thought men dressing in drag was funny.  I feel like most comedic plays I have gone to have to include at least one gag where a man is dressed up like a woman.  What is that about?

However, Billy Wilder didn't just rely on the "oh my god, a man is in a dress, how outrageous is that" gag for laughs.  This movie is full of risqué jokes and witty dialogue that makes the film absolutely hilarious.

Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre and are forced to go into hiding.  Posing as Josephine and Daphne, they join an all girl band on its way to Miami.  Of course, they both immediately fall for Sugar Kane, played extraordinarily well by Marilyn Monroe.

I absolutely adore this movie.  The acting is fantastic; each character has excellent comedic timing, even the gangsters who have very few lines.

There is really nothing to dislike about the film.  It is extremely quotable and my sister and I often reference it in conversations.  A great movie that is as funny today as it was in 1959.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

It took Marilyn Monroe 47 takes to get the line "It's Me, Sugar" correct and 59 takes to get the line "Where's the bourbon?" correct.

Wilder blasted Monroe after this movie was shot and did not invite her to the wrap party.

#22 in AFI's top 100.

340. North by Northwest

North by Northwest
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

After a string of pretty serious films, we get a fun break with North by Northwest.  Has anyone not seen this movie?  At the very least, it has been parodied to death; everyone is familiar with the crop duster scene.  That is why I chose to go with unconventional picture above that just exudes awkwardness.

The last Hitchcock film we had was Vertigo, which I criticized for being too implausible.  While being mistaken for spy is not exactly an everyday occurrence, this film is a lot easier to follow and a lot more fun.

The scenes in this film are absolutely iconic; how could anyone forget the Mount Rushmore scene or the aforementioned plane scene?  Most of all, though, this movie is hilarious.  Grant has fantastic one liners and his pacing, as always, is spot.  One of my gripes with Vertigo was that Jimmy Stewart was miscast.  However, Grant was perfect for this role and I can't imagine the film without him.

This is definitely one of my favorite Hitchcock films and if you haven't seen it yet: what is your problem?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

James Stewart was interested in the role of Thornhill. Hitchcock wanted Grant to play the lead so badly that he waited until James Stewart was committed to Anatomy of a Murder before he offered Stewart the part so Stewart would be forced to turn it down.

Grant is on the left side of the screen for most of the movie.

#55 in AFI's top 100.

HITCHCOCK RADAR: At a bus stop during the opening credits.


339. Les Quatre Cents Coups

Les Quatre Cents Coups
The 400 Blows
Directed by François Truffaut

I wish that I had watched this film some time in middle school because this is one of the best representations of the plights of adolescence that I have ever seen.  Of course, this movie takes the problems to the extreme but I can remember being bullied by teachers and adults and feeling extremely helpless.  Now I can just reflect on how much it sucked being a preteen but I could have used something like this when I was still going through those problems.

Okay, rambling time is over.  Let's get to the film.  This is the story of Antoine Doinel, who is bullied by his teacher and stepfather and is misunderstood by his mother.  The film serves as a expose on the horrible treatment of juvenile delinquents in France.

I found this movie a lot easier to relate to Rebel Without A Cause.  To me, James Dean was just acting like a hot headed idiot which is not at all what Child Amanda was like.  However, in this movie, we get a realistic kid who is just really unhappy and is powerless to do anything about it.

Overall, a good movie and this is what my kids will be watching while other kids are watching Disney. They are going to be weird.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The title of the film is a reference to the French idiom which means to raise hell.

The actors dubbed all of their lines.

338. Jalsaghar

The Music Room
Directed by Satyajit Ray

I was trolling YouTube awhile ago trying to find a good movie to watch and I came across this obscure film.  Now, though, I am well acquainted with Ray, having seen 2/3rds of Apu Trilogy.  After seeing what he is capable of, I would consider this the worst film of his I had seen.  That being said, it is still a beautiful picture.

Biswambhar Roy, a former lord who is on the verge of bankruptcy, decides to put on one last concert in order to show up his rich neighbor, Mahim Ganguly.  Ganguly is jealous of Roy's status while Roy is jealous of Ganguly's money.  A wicked dance off ensues, which, unfortunately, does not involve any street gangs.

I am trying to say this in the most sophisticated way I can.  Man, was that boring.  Everyone seems to recognize that the film is slow-paced but they say that emphasizes the desperation and melancholy.  Maybe I am just impatient, but I had had enough of the desperation and melancholy by the first hour and just wanted something to happen.

But, like I said, this is a beautiful film. Ray seems to be in love with the Indian environment and it shows in all his films.  Additionally, there is a nice little message here about the danger of wanting what you can't have or living in the past.  Still, it drags and for that, it only gets three stars.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Panned by Indian critics but praised by European critics.

337. Mon Oncle

Mon Oncle
My Uncle
Directed by Jacques Tati

You might recall that I absolutely tore M. Hulot's Holiday to shreds.  While this isn't exactly a sequel, the character of M. Hulot is once again the star and I die a little inside.

Last time, I had absolutely no idea what Tati was going for with his film.  This time, I get the distinct impression that he is trying to imitate Modern Times and that he wants M. Hulot to be as lovable and recognizable as the Tramp.

Once again, this probably around 60% of this movie is silent.  This, of course, would be okay if the silent parts were halfway interesting.  Unfortunately, I was terribly bored and spent the entire film wondering if the list makers get some sort of perverse pleasure in testing me.

Anyway, it is a cheap imitation of Chaplin and Chaplin is superior in every way.

RATING: *---- (I will give it one because I did like it better than M. Hulot's Holiday; this isn't saying much)

Interesting Facts:

Wow, I got nothing with this one.  Here's a clip:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

336. Dracula

Released in the US as The Horror of Dracula
Directed by Terence Fisher

Sorry about the gap between this post and the last post.  I got the dreaded "short wait" on Netflix for this one and couldn't find it anywhere else.  Of course, I have seen about four Dracula movies for the list by now so I could probably just freestyle this review and you wouldn't notice.

That last sentence sounds like I am complaining.  I am actually not; I am quite fond of the story; it is just hard to surprise me with the plot after seeing so many adaptations of the novel.  However, this movie actually had some great twists and changed enough of the story to keep my interest.

This is the story, as we all know, of Jonathan Harker, Van Helsing, the Homewood family, and, of course, Dracula.  In this adaptation, however, Harker is already fully aware of what Dracula is and has come to his castle to kill him.  Hilarity ensues.  Well, at least it does if you think the above picture is funny.

I really enjoyed this film.  It was great seeing a Dracula movie in color.  The whole story is a great opportunity to show some real gore (I mean the entire plot revolves around blood).  Unfortunately, in the 20s and 30s we didn't get a lot of violence on screen.  However, in this film, we get blood gushing out of women and some seriously crazy eyes.

Overall, a fun movie and probably the best Dracula film I have ever seen.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Christopher Lee could not see a thing in his contact lenses.

Lee only received 750 pounds for his work in this movie.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

335. Popiół i diament

Popiol i diament
Ashes and Diamonds
Directed by Andrzej Wajda

I delayed writing about this movie even though I finished it last night because I was unsure what my opinion was.  Now, it is the next morning and I am convinced that I did enjoy it but there are still some pretty big flaws that stopped it from being a favorite.

This is the story of Maciek, a Resistance fighter whose father is a communist.  Maciek is ordered to kill a Communist leader but soon realizes that his target was a fellow soldier.  Oh yeah and there is kind of a half assed love story because I guess the filmmakers realized that the movie was a total sausage fest.

The star of this film, Zbigniew Cybulski, was supposedly, before he died in a horrific railroad accident, hailed as the Polish James Dean.  I actually think that he was a much better actor than Dean and his look is arguably even more iconic.  When the film started, he looked so familiar that I thought I had already seen the film.  I realized I only felt that way because his style has been imitated to death since then.

Another great thing about this movie was the cinematography.  The blood in the sheets scene was absolutely beautiful.  However, this film has been praised for the death scene but I feel like I had seen a lot of similar murders before this movie; off the top of my head, Man of the West had a death just like this one.

Like I said, the love story is kind of unnecessary and rushed.  This film definitely should have been longer in order to spend more time exploring different relationships, although I hesitate to say that because some parts of the movie seemed to drag.

So yeah, this film is a bit of a question mark for me but I would still recommend it, if only for Zbigniew and the wonderful cinematography.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Martin Scorsese showed this movie to Leonardo DiCaprio when they were making The Departed since both films explored similar themes.

Sunglasses sales skyrocketed after the release of this movie.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

334. Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Well, this is an odd one.  On the one hand, you know that I adore Alfred Hitchcock and I think all his movies are extremely well done and compelling.  On the other hand, the plot of this movie is so ridiculous that it is almost laughable, which ultimately ruins it a little bit for me.  Weirdly enough, this is often considered his greatest work.

Jimmy Stewart plays a private eye who quit the police department after his fear of heights indirectly caused the death of another police officer.  He is hired by Gavin, an old college friend, to follow his wife and find out why she is acting so strangely.  Um and some more stuff happens.  This is a spoiler free environment.

All right, first of all, when is Hollywood going to stop with movies where there just happens to be someone that looks exactly you (always played by the same actress) and no one can tell the difference? That never happens in real life.  We don't all just have clones or doppelgängers that are able to serve as plot devices.  I swear I have seen or heard of around ten movies with this concept.  It sucks and let's just throw it out.

Okay, I am done with my rant.  The plot is absolutely ridiculous and makes zero sense.  Everyone seems to accept this.

I guess the acclaim comes from the special effects and the compelling relationship between Scotty (Stewart) and Madeleine (Novak).  But for me, this is just another one of those Hollywood movies where a man falls in love with a crazy woman just because she is pretty and really, no other explanation is giving.

This review is making it sound like I hated the movie.  I didn't; it was actually entertaining and exciting to the very end.  I suppose I just feel like Hitchcock underestimates his audience a bit in this movie and it pisses me off.  Still a good film, though.  That is how good Hitchcock movies are: he can screw up and still is able to make a masterpiece.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The famous zoom out then track in shot was invented for this film.

Panned by critics upon its initial release.

Hitchcock blamed Stewart for the failure of the film and never worked with him again.

Ranked #9 in AFI's top 100.

HITCHCOCK RADAR: Carrying an instrument case around eleven minutes into the film.

333. The Defiant Ones

The Defiant Ones
Directed by Stanley Kramer

333!  That's one third of the way through people!  Well, almost.  Still exciting though!

This movie was pretty hard to find and the only way I was able to watch it was by, um, watching it online.  Let's move on; it is better for all of us if I don't include that many details.

In one of the most obvious symbols in the history of cinema, we have this obscure little film.  Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are chained together after escaping from a truck carrying convicts.  Of course, racial tensions are explored.

So, on the one hand, I like the premise, though it is a bit heavy handed in its message.  The idea of two people that don't get along forced to go on an adventure with each other, and then proceeding to gain a deeper understanding of each other isn't exactly a fresh concept, even in 1958.  Now, of course, that is pretty much the premise of every romantic comedy film.  Still, it is well done here and we get some great dialogue from the two actors.

Now I am going to drop a truth bomb here.  I have never been a big fan of Sidney Poitier.  I know some people think he is the greatest actor of all time but I have never been super impressed.  He's not terrible, just not fantastic.  I do like Tony Curtis, though.

I guess my final assessment is that it does make for an entertaining watch but its lack of subtlety is a major flaw.  I would like to at least be given a little bit of room for my interpretation but the overall message of this film is "racism is bad."  I am not saying that is not a good theme and it was particularly pertinent in the late 1950s.  For the modern viewer, however, you don't really get a lot out of it.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Elvis Presley originally wanted the leading role.  Thank god he was talked out of it.

Because the South was so segregated, there is absolutely no way that a black man and a white man would be chained together.  This glaring inaccuracy was the reason that Robert Mitchum turned down the main role.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

332. Gigi

Directed by Vincente Minnelli

What a disappointment.  I usually love musicals but this movie was a complete miss for me.

We begin with a song that an old man sings called "Thank Heaven For Little Girls".  All right, now I know that 1958 was a different time and I am probably jaded but I just found the entire number really creepy.

Then we meet Gaston, who is bored being rich and handsome.  However, he does enjoy spending time with Madame Alvarez and her granddaughter Gigi.  Gigi is training to be a prostitute.  I don't take prostitution lightly, especially when we are talking about a girl as young as Gigi.  Anyway, Gaston falls in love with Gigi and she reluctantly agrees to be his mistress (??????).

Am I the only one is creeped out by Minnelli films?  Honestly, Meet Me in St Louis and this film scared me more than the last 20 horror movies I have seen.

I know you probably think that I should not be taking this movie as seriously as I am.  But honestly, I just found it highly disturbing and there are not even any great musical numbers.  Just…yikes.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Won 9 Oscars.

Considered to be the last great MGM musical.


331. Cairo Station

Cairo Station
Directed by Youssef Chahine

I was told quite awhile ago by a fellow 1001 movie blogger that this movie was nearly impossible to find.  However, I simply typed it into YouTube this morning and there it was, complete with English subtitles.  Videos are frequently taken down on YouTube because of copyright infringements so I don't know how long this will be up and I would recommend watching it as soon as possible if you are interested.  I guess I just got lucky!

Now, then, what the hell did I just watch?  This is the first Egyptian movie on the list (possibly the only one) and this was certainly not what I was expecting.

A lame young man becomes obsessed with an engaged woman.  He proposes to her, despite her engagement, and she says no.  He then goes absolutely insane and tries to kill her.  Ah, true love.

I am trying to digest this movie, but really I have never seen anything like it.  It reminded me of a Shakespearean tragedy where one character just goes crazy and starts killing everyone.  Although, at least in Shakespeare, we get some soliloquy that explains the character's actions.  Here, we just have a random guy who says he loves a girl for no apparent reason and then goes insane.  I guess my main problem is that there is not enough relevant dialogue so everyone's actions just seem completely out of the blue.

So yeah, it is kind of a crappy plot and I am pretty sure that the only reason this film is on the list is because it was the first Egyptian film to achieve any kind of international recognition.  What an odd and obscure movie.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

I can't seem to find any trivia on this movie because of its obscurity.

Here's where I found it:

330. Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil
Directed by Orson Welles

What a great opening scene.  I am sure many film classes study just the first three minutes of this film.  We see a Mexican man plant a bomb in a car just before a couple crosses the border.  Janet Leigh and Charlton Heston pass the car a couple of times on foot.  Just as the car crosses the border, the car explodes and the couple is killed.

Unfortunately, the film is never able to keep up the tension that it builds in the opening scene.  I am no saying that the rest of the movie is boring, but when you have such a great beginning, it is easy to be disappointed with the rest of the film.

Anyway, for the next hour and a half or so, we follow the story of Vargas (Heston) as he digs deeper into the bomb mystery.

I really don't like Charlton Heston.  I feel like I keep saying that but unfortunately, he keeps cropping up everywhere.  In this film he is cast as a Mexican.  Really?  I had an easier time imagining he was Moses.

I can't really complain about the rest of the actors.  It was great seeing Janet Leigh in something other than Psycho, which was the only thing I had ever seen her in.  Orson Welles was also exceptional in his role; he is really good at creeping me the hell out.

I saw this film awhile ago and I am still not exactly sure what I think.  I guess for now I will give it four stars and maybe change it later.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Orson Welles was fired during post production, so the film was cut without his approval.

A box office failure in the US.

Just check out the opening:

329. Man of the West

Man of the West
Directed by Anthony Mann

Well, I suppose it is back to business with Man of the West.  On first glance, it seems like this is just the typical western.  Gary Cooper is a reluctant hero in an Anthony Mann western (Mann makes some fun westerns but they are never exactly original).  However, this movie was extremely different from what I was expecting and after getting used to formulaic 50s westerns, I was quite scandalized.

Gary Cooper goes on a train to try to find a school teacher for his town.  The train is robbed and he is left stranded with a tough broad and a kooky old-timer.  They walk until they reach a farmhouse, which is occupied from a gang from Gary Cooper's past.  Will he revert to his old villainous ways?  Will he become the hero that is inside him?  Will I continue to annoyingly ask you questions in this cheesy manner?  Watch the film to find out A and B!

Now, the above plot summary does not seem very outrageous.  However, there are several undressing scenes that are quite disturbing.  And, like it any western, men shoot each other, beat each other up, and spit a lot.  In this film, though, there was a lot of focus on the innocent victims of stupid men, whose only real power lies in their guns.  Anything else I say would be considered a spoiler, so I will stop there.

I do have a couple of problems with the movie.  I think Gary Cooper was getting just a little too old to be starring in this movie.  I am not saying older men don't have a place in the movies, but Cooper was fifty-six when he shot this movie.  He not only was playing the love interest of a woman who was twenty-five years younger than him, but was also physically besting men who were twenty years younger than him.  I do like him as an actor but maybe this role just wasn't for him.

I also wish the ending was different but again, there are no spoilers here.

Overall, still worth a watch but definitely not one of my favorites.  I can see, though, how this could have been an influence on Leone or Clintwood westerns.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

James Stewart wanted the lead role but because he had a fight with Mann, he did not get it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Liebster Award!

Hello everyone!
Andrew D. from one of my favorite blogs, 1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die, has passed the Liebster Award onto me!  I think the last time that I won an award was in second grade when I finished my speed tests first.  If you haven't checked out Andrew's blog yet, I would highly recommend you do so.  If you type "1001 movie blogs" into Google, it is like a graveyard of abandoned blogs.  Andrew has not only stuck with the project for years, but manages to write in-depth reviews that are both entertaining and enlightening.

Anyway, it is my duty as a recipient to write eleven random facts about myself and answer some questions that Andrew came up with.  Here we go!

Random facts about me:
1. I have a white chinchilla named Lady, who, like her owner, mostly likes to eat treats, sleep, and be left alone.
2. I only went to high school for three years and went to college early.
3. I currently work at a library where my coworkers are all approximately forty years older than me.
4. I have been in love twice, each time I was more or less rejected, although I am pretty sure one of the guys was gay, so my ego wasn't that crushed.
5. My favorite place in the world is probably on the bridge in St. James Park, London.
6. My favorite books are The Elegance of a Hedgehog, Tom Jones, Don Quixote, and Emma.
7. In addition to the movie list, I also blog about the 1001 albums list and the 1001 books list.
8. My best friends are Rachel and Mara.  Rachel is my older sister who has always taken care of me and Mara is the one person that made going to high school seem semi worthwhile.
9. I am completely obsessed with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and I think James Marsters is the sexiest man in the world.
10. I am teaching myself sign language.
11. My favorite musicians are Nico, The Beatles (duh), CSN, and Taylor Swift.  Yes, I am opening myself up to ridicule with that last one.

Andrew's Questions
1. What is your favorite Hitchcock film?
I think the most effective film is Psycho.  That movie still terrifies me; the first time I saw it I had to sleep in my sister's room and kept waking up screaming.  Because of this, I cannot watch it a lot but it is extremely well made.  I guess one that I can watch over and over again would be Rope.
2. What is the first film you REMEMBER purchasing on DVD?
My DVD collection is pretty embarrassing.  I pretty much only buy movies that I can't find on Netflix or the internet.  Nowadays, I can pretty much watch my favorite movies whenever I want just by Googling them.  So this is not really representative of me of my movie taste but I am pretty sure I bought There's Something About Mary awhile back because I had never seen it.  As a side note, if anyone wants a copy of that terrible movie, I could send you one.
3. Think of your favorite director?  Got it? Okay, now then, what is the movie that made them your favorite director?
I was pretty fond of Quentin Taratino before this, but after I saw Inglourious Basterds, I was absolutely blown away.  For the entire 153 minutes I was on the edge of my seat.  Just incredible.
4. Wes Anderson or Paul Thomas Anderson?
Definitely Wes Anderson.  Rushmore was hilarious and I loved the use of Nico's songs in The Royal Tenebaums.
5. What is your favorite silent film?
Probably The Passion of Joan of Arc.  Just a beautiful film.
6. You're going to be stranded on a deserted island and can take along five movies…what are they?
Princess Bride, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Searchers, Scream, and When Harry Met Sally.
7. Pre 1960s films or Post 1960s films?
Pre 1960s.  I do love the nineties but the eighties weren't great and I couldn't live without fifties musicals.
8. Why do you blog about movies?
Initially, I wanted to follow the 1001 movie list but I did not have the courage to make a blog about it.  I know that sounds silly, but the thought of making an entire website that consists solely of my opinions and writing terrified me.  Gradually, however, I gained some courage by reading other people's fantastic blogs.  Now, I have a great time writing reviews and contributing to this blog is one of the highlights of my day.
9. If you could dine with three movie personalities (directors, actors, actresses, etc) who would they be?
A lot of my idols are assholes, I think.  Quentin Taratino is supposedly really mean and Hitchcock was a major creep (I am a brunette, though, so I might be safe).  I would probably choose Woody Allen, Joss Whedon (I am cheating a little bit here because I would want to talk about Buffy and not his film work), and Kevin Spacey.
10. How big is your DVD collection?
Like I said, pretty embarrassing.  I do have some good comedies (Scream, Office Space, Horrible Bosses, etc.) but other than that pretty slim.
11. Favorite horror film to watch on/or around Halloween.
I think Japanese horror films are the scariest so I would have to say Ringu.

Pass it on!
Part of my job as a Liebster Award recipient is to pass the award on to other blogs that deserve it.  Here are my favorite blogs which deserve the highest praise:
1001 Flicks
1001 Reads
1001 Albums
1001 Classical
Liz's 1001 Albums
Life Listed
Elle Swim
What Should We Call Me
How Do I Put This Gently?
The Lit Witch
Sarah Reads Too Much

Questions for other bloggers
And finally, I have to write eleven questions that other bloggers have to answer.  I will be really interested to see their responses.
1. Have you ever seriously considered giving up on your project?
2. What are your plans after you finish this project?
3. What would your advice be to people who are considering doing your project?
4. Where are you happiest in the world?
5. What's your favorite thing about your blog?  Your least favorite?
6. If you could hang out with or date one fictional character, who would it be?
7. One special skill that you wish you had?
8. What do you think is the most overrated movie/book/album/tv show?
9. What's your dream job?
10. If you had one week left to live, what would you do?
11. If someone made you get a tattoo right now, what would it be?

Thank you again Andrew D. for the award.  This was a lot of fun!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

Hello all,

I just wanted to say a quick word about Roger Ebert, who is perhaps the best known film critic in the world and one of my personal heroes.

I cannot tell you how many times I have read a review of Roger's and instantly thought to myself "yes, that is exactly how I felt!"  Roger had the ability to put any emotion into words, and he did it beautifully.

I have, on occasion, received a nasty or rude comment on this blog because of my writing or opinions.  But it was Roger, who probably was insulted more cruelly than most film stars, that helped me remember that you are allowed to have an opinion.  It doesn't matter if other people disagree or even think you are stupid for feeling a certain way.  You can't help the way you feel about a movie.

But Roger isn't just an inspiration for his career as a film critic.  He had a good attitude through cancer, the loss of his jaw, and the death of his best friend and he still managed to be happy.

It is always sad to see an idol die.  However, when I look at how full Roger's life was, I feel inspired and happy that the world got to know such an amazing man.  RIP Roger.

328. Sweet Smell of Success

Sweet Smell of Success
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick

I was familiar with Mackendrick's so called comedies before this movie, but I had never seen any of his dramas.  I was nervous about this movie because I hated his previous films.  However, Mackendrick's inability to be funny actually came in handy with this movie, which was a very compelling drama.

This is one of those stories where every person is just awful.  This is usually not my kind of thing; call me a sap but I like having a hero in the story.

Anyway, JJ Hunsecker blackmails a columnist into ruining his sister's fiancé.  It is sort of like a Shakespearean tragedy in that there a lot of schemes and it the end everything goes to hell.

First of all, Burt Lancaster is freaking terrifying.  He had the kind of look in this film that I associate with serial killers.  Take a look:
I mean, what a creep.  Anyway, the book says that Hunsecker had a incestous love for his sister, which makes the whole story even sicker.

So did I like it?  Well, it was certainly entertaining and with stars like Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, you really cannot go wrong.  Still, it was kind of disturbing and left a bad taste in my mouth.  This is one that I might have to think about for a couple days and then come back to.

RATING: ***--(for now)

Interesting Facts:

Hunsecker was based on Walter Winchell.

"I'd hate to take a bite out of you.  You're a cookie full of arsenic." is ranked #99 in Premiere's Greatest Movie Lines of All Time.

327. Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Here we go with the Stanley Kubrick movies, which we will not be done with until the late eighties.  Kubrick is sometimes extremely enjoyable and at other times, pretentious and boring. I definitely flip flop on my opinion for this man and hopefully, by the end of this journey, after seeing his movies in order, I will be able to form a more definite opinion.  For now, though, we just have Paths of Glory to deal with.

The last movie I watched was a sappy romance and now we have a war film.  Talk about movies that I just cannot get into.  Maybe next time there will be a sports biography!

I should really like this movie.  It certainly sounds interesting enough.  Kirk Douglas stars as Colonel Dax, who attempts to defend his men in court after they refuse to take part in a suicide attack.

Let's start with what I liked.  First of all, I am extremely sick of the "war is bad" theme.  Yes, we are all aware of that.  However, this film chooses to specifically attack military courts, which is a lot more compelling and thought provoking.  Also, props have to go to both the actors and the cinematographer.

Despite all of this, I still was bored.  I couldn't help it; I was just waiting for the film to end.  On paper, this film is fantastic.  I will probably try it again soon; maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.  So I would still recommend this movie, but it just isn't my cup of tea.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Banned in France and Switzerland.

Churchill claimed that this movie was quite accurate when it came to trench warfare and military courts.

John McCain's favorite war film.

326. Letyat Zhuravli

Letyat Zhuravli
The Cranes Are Flying
Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov

I cannot remember the last time there was a Russian film on the list.  When I was in my silent film phase, it seemed like every other movie was some Soviet propaganda film from Eisenstein.  The Book explains this by saying that in the last years of Stalinism, the studios shut down because of economic devastation.  Then, when Stalin died, productions started up again, although this time the films were, fortunately, less propagandistic.

This is a somewhat sappy love story.  Veronica and Boris are in love but Boris goes off to war anyway.  Veronica is sad and tries to move on but she can't seem to forget Boris.

I am not really one for the extremely sappy love story; for me something else has to be going on, like a ship hitting an iceberg or a snappy dance number.  This was just pure sappiness.  Granted, the cinematography is beautiful and the acting is fantastic.  It certainly is a good film, just not the type that I enjoy immensely.  Still recommended.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

One of Martin Scorsese's favorite films.