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.