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: