Saturday, December 27, 2014

517. M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H
1970
Directed by Robert Altman












We go from Patton to this nasty piece of work and what a horrible transition it is.  I can't understand why anyone would find this film funny.  I found it to be completely upsetting and the fact that it got a television spin off is baffling to me.  Maybe we can make a sitcom based on Birth of a Nation next.

There isn't much of a plot here; it is more like a series of unpleasant vignettes that take place in a mobile hospital unit during the Korean War. The kind of systematic bullying, which borders on sexual assault, that Major Margaret Houlihan has to endure is upsetting in itself.  Although this pissed me off, it was not enough to make me hate the film.  After all, if you couldn't take watching people be mistreated in films, you would be stuck watching Fantasia on a loop.  What upset me the most is the intended audience reaction for this character.  We were supposed to cheer for the soldiers as they sexually humiliated this woman, supposedly because she represented the bureaucracy?  I don't really care why they said they did it; it clearly revealed this malevolence towards women that can't be explained away.  I don't want to reveal what happens to this character, but just know that the outcome drives me completely insane.

Some people may be able to look past this (or simply not care at all; which is unsettling in itself).  But I cannot and for that reason, it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould went to the studio in hopes of getting Robert Altman removed from the project.  You are all just terrible.

Much of the dialogue was improvised.

#54 in AFI's Top 100.  Ugh.




516. Patton

Patton
1970
Directed by Franklin Schaffer











I am really not a huge fan of war movies in general (little war humor there, which is always popular); however, I have to admit that this is one of the most well-acted, quotable films I have ever seen.

Patton starts with one of the most iconic scenes in movie history.  Patton addresses the 3rd Army, leading with these words: "Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." I was nervous when I started this movie that it would either be nauseatingly patriotic or drearily anti war.  Fortunately, we get a happy middle that seems a lot more real than previous (and future) entries on The List.

Still, this film is not without its faults.  It does tend to drag on for a bit; like I said before, war movies bore me quite easily.  I think it was slightly easier for me to watch since it was more about a man than a war.  Definitely worth a place in The Book.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

George C. Scott won the Oscar for Best Actor, but refused to accept it since he was fundamentally opposed to the idea of award shows.

John Wayne hoped to play Patton but was rejected by the producer.

Opening speech:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

515. Ucho

Ucho
The Ear
1970
Directed by Karel Kachyna











Here we have the Czechoslovakian version of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?.  I know, I know: the long wait is finally over.

An unhappy married couple find that their house has been broken into after attending a political event.   They proceed to bicker quite intensely, enough that I would be running for the window if I was in their presence.  So this was just as awkward as Virginia Woolf, but at least this film has some political commentary.  It was nice to get something out of this besides palm sweat and anxiety.

I did enjoy this film, despite the secondhand embarrassment it offered.  I don't want to give too much away, but I love how the director at times made us feel like we were watching a horror film.  And honestly, what's scarier than having your marriage fall apart while you are under surveillance by Soviet forces?  Think of the secondhand embarrassment that the Soviets must have experienced listening to their wiretaps.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

First released in 1989.






Wednesday, December 3, 2014

514. Little Big Man

Little Big Man
1970
Directed by Arthur Penn









I am having a bit of trouble sitting down and writing this review.  Perhaps it is because the mere idea of writing the plot synopsis for this film is quite daunting.  The film spans the life of Dustin Hoffman's character from the age of 10 to the age of 121.  We might be here for awhile.

Jack and his sister Caroline witness the massacre of their parents by the Pawnee tribe (weren't they peaceful?) but are saved and taken in by the Cheyenne tribe.  Caroline escapes, but Jack is raised by Old Lodge Skins.  This apparently doesn't mean much to him, since he renounces the tribe when he is captured by US Cavalry.  He then is put under the care of a Reverend and a very sexually frustrated Faye Dunaway, hence the awkward photograph above.  God, it's like summarizing Forrest Gump.  General Custer makes some unpleasant appearances.  Jack's romantic life goes quite poorly, but he still manages to not have sex with Faye Dunaway.  An admirable accomplishment in my opinion.

From a social development standpoint, this movie is actually quite refreshing.  I mean, we actually have a Native American playing a Native American?  Not even an Italian American (which for some reason filmmakers seem to think is close enough), but an actual Native American.  And yes, I realize that the main reason that the Native Americans were shown as innocent victims during the Custer massacre was  in the service of a point, in order to compare the slayings to the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.  Still, we are moving in a positive direction.  At least, we are until we hit Dances With Wolves, but we will destroy that bridge when we come to it.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Dustin Hoffman achieved his raspy voice by screaming at the top of his lungs for an hour in his dressing room.

Little Big Man was a real Native American who fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Trailer:

513. Strategia del Ragno

Strategia del Ragno
The Spider's Stratagem
1970
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci










Mentioning Bernardo Bertolucci might still make me gag a bit, but after this film, I might be able to mildly suppress memories of Last Tango in Paris. At least for a little while.  Like for the next five minutes.

Athos Magnani returns to his home, Tara (um, creatively speaking, that's kind of been there done that but all right), in order to find out who killed his father.  I am making it sound like some sort of American action film.  In reality, everyone is a lot less concerned about how Athos I's life came to an end and a lot more interested in simply pretending that Athos II was the second coming.  With more flattering clothes of course.

This isn't really a movie for people that love plot.  In fact, the whole thing kind of reminded me of a dream.  You had a basic goal, like escaping a room, but somehow you end up getting distracted in seconds by extremely weird imagery.  Next thing you know, you are explaining what UTIs are to the quarterback of your high school football team.  At least, that's how dreams go if you're me.

Wow, this post has really gone off the rails.  Suffice to say, there is beautiful imagery and cinematography in this movie, but if you are looking for a satisfying plot, keep on walking.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Based on a short story by Jorge Luis Borges.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

512. Deep End

Deep End
1970
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski













I apologize that I have been a bit behind on this blog.  I recently got myself a new boyfriend (researchers are currently working on how that could be possible; the results should be in by next Tuesday) so I have been quite busy.  Rest assured, I am working to catch up.

This is the story of Mike, a high school drop out who finds work in a London bathhouse.  He is trained by a pretty girl named Susan, who uses her sexuality to um...make more money off her clients and advises Mike to do the same.  Mike rapidly becomes obsessed with Susan and let's just say, things get weird.  The Book tells us that this is a date movie you must see before you die.  I think that if a guy played this for me on a date, I might have to call the police.

Watching lust drive men completely insane is really quite an unsettling experience for me.  I am all for watching Ewan McGregor sing Roxanne when his girlfriend is about to sleep with someone else, but having to see this fifteen year old go completely insane was disturbing.  Maybe the film was worth it, though, because of the beautiful shot at the end?  A tough call.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Quite a few of the actors were dubbed.


Friday, November 7, 2014

511. Woodstock

Woodstock
1970
Directed by Michael Wadleigh













I am currently going through a break up and a bout of laryngitis, neither of which is fun and both of which require ice cream.  Fortunately, we finally came across an enjoyable film.  This is a particularly interesting watch if you are trying to complete the 1001 Album list as well, which I don't recommend to anyone who has a life.

There is not exactly a plot to detail here since the movie mostly just features musical performances, the best of which include Joan Baez (cover your ears for her high notes) and CSN.  I am really not one to romanticize Woodstock, but this was an engaging documentary.  It really makes you wish there was a camera around for other historical moments.  You know, that don't involve presidents getting shot or naked hippies.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The Beatles were invited to perform at the festival but they declined.  John Lennon offered to perform as the Plastic Ono Band.  John, stop trying to ruin my life.

Neil Young refused to be filmed.





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

510. El Topo

El Topo
1970
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky









Frequent readers, why don't you guess if I liked this film?  Go on, guess!

What a horrible way to spend two hours.  This was absolutely disgusting.  I have seen plenty of nauseating visuals in the name of art but this has gotten to be near the top of the list.  Forget all the senseless violence in the actual film.  What I found most disturbing was that the director's young son, who couldn't be more than eight, was naked for most of the film.  What kind of parent would let their son be on screen with full frontal nudity like that?  With all the creeps out there, I am not even sure that should be legal.

I won't go into the plot too much.  Mostly, it is an extremely trippy allegory of Christ and really, how many of those do we have to see?  I personally wanted to throw in the towel with RoboCop.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Originally was an underground film until John Lennon discovered it, fell in love with it, and urged his friend to take charge of distribution.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

509. Five Easy Pieces

Five Easy Pieces
1970
Directed by Bob Rafelson










I do respect and love Jack Nicholson, but is anyone else getting a little bit tired of the whole being an asshole for being an asshole's sake persona?  Believe me, I have met enough of those.  They're the people that act like total dicks to you and then when you ask why say "Amanda, you have to stop taking life so seriously.  Some things can't be explained, like the past, and you just have to except that." Wrong form of accept, by the way.  But I digress.

Okay, so Five Easy Pieces.  Jack Nicholson is Bobby Dupea, a complete ass who cheats on his annoying girlfriend and says disgusting things to waitresses.  He goes to see his estranged father and ends up falling for his brother's wife.  Don't feel too bad for the brother, though; everyone is this movie is just awful.

Every good quality in this movie can be found somewhere else, in a better version.  Do you want a great Jack Nicholson asshole performance?  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  You can even find a better version of a brother-brother-brother's girlfriend love triangle in Dan in Real Life.  Yes, I said it.  Skip it.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The title refers to the name of a piano lesson book.




Monday, October 13, 2014

508. Tristana

Tristana
1970
Directed by Luis Bunuel









We are officially starting the 1970s.  Who is excited?  Anyone?  When we start the 80s, I can use a Ferris Bueller reference here that I am sure will kill.  Anyway, we are kicking off the 70s with a really great film.

Catherine Deneuve plays Tristana, a young orphan who is taken care of by Don Lope Garrido.  He is deeply in love with her, while she desires to feel real passion and be independent.  When she ends up falling for a new guy, it seems like she should finally be able to achieve happiness.  Unfortunately, it is a Spanish film so nothing can work out that well.

We all know that anything done by Catherine Deneuve is going to be absolutely brilliant.  However, a great performance doesn't always mean a great movie; just look at abominations like Mamma Mia or Nine.  In this case, though, we got a great plot and not once did Daniel Day-Lewis sing! I call it a win.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The character of Don Lope is partially based on Bunuel's father.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

1960s Oscars!

Once again, we have reached the end of a decade in our movie journey.  Fortunately for you guys, you don't have to read a sappy, sentimental recap, since I am not too thrilled with the sixties as a whole.  I kind of feel like I did when my mean hamster died.  There were still some excellent films that deserve to be praised.  As always, feel free to disagree with me in the comments.  Please refrain from calling me  Ditzy McDingus, though.  Words scar.

BEST PICTURE: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Nominees:
Psycho
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
West Side Story
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Once Upon a Time in the West
The Young Ladies of Rochefort
Rosemary's Baby
The Birds
In the Year of the Pig

WORST PICTURE: Scorpio Rising
Nominees:
Blonde Cobra
The Ladies Man
Flaming Creatures
Andrei Rublev

BEST DIRECTOR: Sergio Leone
Nominees:
Roman Polanski
Alfred Hitchcock
Jacques Demy
Eric Rohmer
Guy Hamilton

BEST ACTOR: Anthony Perkins
Nominees:
George Chakiris
Tim O'Kelly
Henry Fonda
Jack Lemmon

BEST ACTRESS: Bette Davis
Nominees:
Rita Moreno
Catherine Deneuve
Francoise Fabian
Ann Bancroft

BEST LINE: "Mother, uh, my mother is, what is the phrase?  She is not quite herself today."-Psycho
Nominees:
"Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch."-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
"Why do you kids live like there's a war on?"-West Side Story
"Paris is small for great passion like us"-The Young Girls of Rochefort


507. Kes

Kes
1969
Directed by Ken Loach










This is the last film from the 1960s!!!  It has really been a rocky send off, but I suppose that makes it easier to say goodbye to this decade.

Is there ever a film about British school children that isn't horrifying?  I hope frequent commentator, Ray, did not have it so bad.  This is the story of Billy Casper, who is bullied by pretty much everyone, He finds solace in training a falcon, which, in a not so subtle metaphor, represent the wings he desires to fly away with.

So here is a film that I think a lot of people will find emotional, but I found to be a bit lacking.  For one thing, the movie was very predictable.  Maybe this isn't the film's fault, since the movie has probably been copied so many times, but it still made the experience significantly less enjoyable.  For another thing, I am not a huge fan of films starring kids and this kid is about as whiny as they come.

Overall, one that I would have happily skipped.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Some of the children were actually beaten by the actor who played the headmaster.  They were all paid a bonus of 50 pence.  Um...

The Yorkshire accents in this film make it somewhat difficult to understand for both British and American audiences.  Parts of the movie were dubbed because of this.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

506. Sayat Nova

Sayat Nova
The Color of Pomegranates
1969
Directed by Sergei Parajanov










This is one of those films that very few people get and the ones that claim to are often suspected of being pretentious posers.  It is not exact an appealing spectrum to fall on.  I happen to land on the idiot rating, I think, since I have no idea what that was and have no desire to see it again.

Apparently, this is the life story of a poet.  At least, that is what I read this film is about.  I never would have come to that conclusion by myself, since there is absolutely no plot structure.  I suppose that there is no denying that some of the images are beautiful.  There is also no denying that a film like this will bore most people to tears.

I didn't find any of the scenes particularly interesting; at least with something like Un Chien Andalou the images kept my attention.  Totally skippable.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Banned in the Soviet Union.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

505. Le Boucher

Le Boucher
The Butcher
1969
Directed by Claude Chabrol










It is remarkable how little happens in this film, since it has such an intriguing premise.  It's like if someone wearing a beanie hat and a halter top turned out to be dull with no back story.  It cuts a lot deeper than most dull movies when you are teased like this.  Bastards.

Helene is a beautiful teacher who begins to fall for the butcher, Popaul, who may or may not be the local serial killer who preys on young women.  Helene must decide whether or not she trusts Popaul or if he is even worth the trouble at all.  Now, doesn't that sound interesting?  I repeat, those bastards.

I will say that the character of Helene was very interesting.  She is painted as the picture perfect school teacher, but you can tell that she is repressing something dark, sexual, or possibly both.  On the other hand, the character of Popaul got on my nerves.  I won't go into too much detail since that would give away the ending, but let's just say I didn't appreciate the director seemingly shaming Helene for not being more sexually open.

I am probably making this sound worse than it is.  It is an interesting idea but I have seen a lot films pull off similar premises so much better.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Referenced Strangers on a Train.




504. Andrei Rublyov

Andrei Rublyov
Andrei Rublev
1969
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky











I have been trying to get through this film for the past week and a half and lord, have I struggled.  I am also currently reading Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.  I am going to have to seriously binge on reality television to ensure that my brain is still mush.

The version I watched of this film was 205 minutes so I am not going to go into great detail about the plot.  This is a handy excuse, since I wasn't paying a lot of attention.  Your movie reviewer, ladies and gentlemen.

What I do know is that this movie is overrun with glaringly obvious metaphors.  For example, the film starts with a man preparing for a hot air balloon ride.  As he rises into the air, an angry mob, frightened by the spectacle, try to stop him.  On the other hand, the man is completely in awe of the views afforded to him with this device...until he crashes.  Let's get some English professors in here to figure out what that means.

Just plain dull and heaven knows we have more than our share of those.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

A horse from a local slaughterhouse was shot in the head for the scene when the horse falls down the stairs.  Charming.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

503. The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch
1969
Directed by Sam Peckinpah









After I write this review I will FINALLY be caught up on this blog and be able to go to sleep.  So I apologize if this post is a bit rough but I have been writing all day and am eager to finish.

After a particularly disgusting opening sequence, we are introduced to Pike Bishop, an aging outlaw who just pulled off one last robbery before retirement.   Unfortunately, most of his posse are killed by pursuing bounty hunters.  This is a real shame, since the loot wasn't even real money.  Anyway, the remaining members of the gang decide to seek their fortune by stealing American weapons for the Mexican army.

I have watched so many Westerns now for The Book that they are all starting to blur together a bit.  The most notable thing about this film had to be how bloody it was; I have never seen this much violence in the genre before.  While I don't have that much of a problem with gore in films, I don't think blood alone is enough to sustain a movie.  I found myself bored throughout most of the movie.  Really, could they have picked a less sympathetic character to torture?

Not the best Western movie I have seen but it may be the most overrated.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Ranked #79 in AFI's top 100 movies.

John Wayne claimed that this film destroyed the myth of the Old West.

Many of the characters' names in this movie were used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Do you have any idea how happy this makes me?

Body count of 145.

502. In the Year of the Pig

In the Year of the Pig
1969
Directed by Emile de Antonio

Here we have another documentary about something just as emotionally damaging as high school: the Vietnam War.

This film mostly consists of talking heads explaining the US involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.  I would like to think that I am well informed about the Vietnam War since I have studied Asian history all through college.  Still, I didn't recognize any of the people who were interviewed?  Were we supposed to?  If so, then I totally did...

I think at this point we all realize that the United States never should have become involved in Vietnam.     I say this because this film is heavily anti war so the impact of its message doesn't exactly pack the same punch anymore.  Still, it is a very informative documentary and one that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in learning more about the war.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Met with a very hostile and negative reception.












501. High School

High School
1969
Directed by Frederick Wiseman










I actually saw this movie in a film class I took freshman year of college.  I am quite glad I did, since this seems to be a hard one to get a hold of.  While I wouldn't say that this is a favorite movie, I am certainly glad I saw it.

This is a documentary on a typical high school day in 1969.  We see many of the mundane events that make up a day in high school, including a gym class, an assembly, a sex ed class, and a creepy male teacher that stared a little too long at girls doing jumping jacks.  As someone who came from a high school where there were quite a few sex scandals, I can relate.

I love books and movies that really show how shitty high school is.  I am not talking about movies that show a pretty girl in glasses being made fun of by a slightly less pretty girl in a cheerleading outfit.  I am talking about showing the cruelty of some teachers and portraying the feeling of complete helplessness that you have everyday.  Can you tell I did not enjoy high school?

It was amazing to me how little has changed since this film came out.  Definitely a must see film.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of the first direct cinema documentaries.

500. Easy Rider

Easy Rider
1969
Directed by Dennis Hopper













I will try not to get too sentimental here but WE HAVE REACHED 500!!  I hope my readers have enjoyed this journey as much as I have.  I have a blast writing these reviews and reading everybody's comments.  Here's to the next 500!

Unfortunately, we have to start second half on a somewhat sour note.  Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (the far less attractive son of Henry Fonda) decide to take a road trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, having just received a large sum of money from smuggling cocaine into the country.  Along the way, they pick up a small town lawyer (Jack Nicholson) and consume a lot of drugs.  American Dream is not what it is cracked up to be, etc.

Let's get my gripes out of the way quickly so we can finally get to a movie that I actually enjoy.  First of all, I am not a big fan of psychedelic adventures.  I have always hated Alice in Wonderland for this reason and I actually threw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas across the room after reading it (I was feeling melodramatic that day).  I was completely bored throughout this film; however, if you enjoy that kind of stuff I imagine the film would be a lot more bearable.

To have actors stay in character while ingesting large amounts of drugs is a lot to ask.  I personally don't think it came across so well.  I was very aware that everyone was acting and that is coming from me, a sworn Nicholson worshipper.

A complete bore to sit through.  Please tell me a good movie is coming soon.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Dennis Hopper was in a state of constant paranoia during filming and would often yell at the crew.

The weird lighting effects that took place during the LSD scenes were caused by the film accidentally being exposed before development.




499. Il Conformista

Il Conformista
The Conformist
1969
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci












I have dedicated today completely to catching up on all my blogs and if that means neglecting some housework, so be it!  I have been behind for weeks now and am very eager to watch some new movies.  Until that happy moment arrives, though, we must talk about The Conformist.

Marcello Clerici is in Paris to assassinate his former college professor.  In a series of flashbacks, we learn about Marcello's past, which includes homosexual encounters, an awkward marriage, and an affair with the professor's wife.  Basically, this man is just a horrible person but we are supposed to find him fascinating.  Sounds like every guy I have ever gone a date with, come to think of it.

I have really been hating on the recent string of films and from the looks of what we have lined up, that is not going to change anytime soon.  I will say that it was interesting watching where loyalty to the state led during a period of revolution and change.  But did anyone find these characters to be realistic or relatable in any way? They all seemed to be disturbed to some degree.  I am sorry to burst any males' bubbles here, but I highly doubt that any woman would act like Anna does.

This was a sad and strange experience; I only wish that I cared a bit more about the characters.  Oh well.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The telephone number given by the operator belongs to Jean-Luc Godard.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

498. Z

Z
1969
Directed by Costa-Gavras












We are getting so close to the halfway mark; how crazy is that?  I am going to have to find a way to celebrate. Maybe I will get a free drink if I explain the situation: "Hey, I have reached 500 on my 1001 movie blog.  Well, actually I have seen more movies than that, it's just I am going chronologically so I have written 500.  I have maybe seen 900.  No, I don't write them ahead of time.  Yes, I realize that it is a stupid system."

This film is centered on the assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis.  Now, the last event I remember learning about in Greek history was the Battle of Marathon.  I am a little behind the times and I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat as me.  I had to do quite a bit of research to understand what was going on in this film.  So this experience may have felt like more a homework assignment than a way to relax, but I still enjoyed it.

This film is known for how well it builds tension.  I have ridiculously high standards for suspense after seeing the perfection that was Wages of Fear.  I agree that this movie was admirably done and I will say that I was quite tense throughout the duration of the movie.  Still, it wasn't without its dead time and I found myself watching the clock quite a bit.  It was worth a watch, though, but be prepared to do some reading if you are as ignorant about Greek history as me.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The letter "Z" apparently means "he is alive" in Ancient Greek.

Tied with "M" for shortest movie title of all time.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

497. Satyricon

Satyricon
1969
Directed by Federico Fellini













Frequent readers of my blog will know that I really hate Fellini and think he is a bit of a pretentious nutcase.  So I apologize if this review seems a bit repetitive.  I also apologize if it is not the most in-depth review, since I kind of spaced out during the duration of this movie.  Unfortunately, I love myself too much to rewatch the parts that made me zone out.

Encolpio is heartbroken that his sex slave was taken by someone else.  Um, then let's see.  People are sexually abused and humiliated in different ways.  Good thing I didn't have a chance to be too disturbed since I wasn't paying much attention anyway.

The cinematography is often praised in this film, but I personally think beauty is quite easy to capture on film; it really is everywhere.

A real low for Fellini and that is coming from me, who wasn't expecting much anyway.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Fellini didn't cast Italians as the male leads because, according to him, there are no homosexual Italians.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

496. Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy
1969
Directed by John Schlesinger











I have always remembered this line from Roger Ebert's review: "trying to get the good out of Midnight Cowboy is like looking at a great painting through six inches of Jell-O."  Will I ever say something that beautiful and truthful?  Besides when I say "cookie dough ice cream is delicious?"  I suppose I can have a crisis about talent at another time.  For now, let's talk about this suckfest, which is no doubt considered a masterpiece by many.

Jon Voight stars as Joe Buck, a Texan who hopes to use his cowboy image to become a successful prostitute in New York City.  Needless to say, he is not very good at it.  I say needless because I personally would not assume that any job based around Jon Voight's sexual prowess was going to end well.  Anyway, he ends up getting swindled by Ratso (played by Dustin Hoffman).  Ratso is a seriously ill character who is famous for saying "Hey, we're walking here!"  Really?  Why is that such a famous line?  I live in the city and hear people yell at cars all the time.  Where are their Academy Awards?  In any case, they become friends and a bromance ensues.

Man, I really hated this film.  The soundtrack got on my nerves; it felt very invasive and out of place.  It was as if the director was just shoving in songs so that he didn't actually have to convey any emotions in his scenes.  I found the story to be completely uninteresting.  I don't know if this was because of Voight's wooden acting style or the lack of action, but I was bored the entire time.  I will credit Hoffman with a great performance, but since I didn't really care about his character, that can only carry the film so far.  After seeing such great chemistry between Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I almost felt uncomfortable watching the Voight and Hoffman interact since there really didn't seem to be anything between them.

I wish I could have seen some of the masterpiece and not just the Jell-O but unfortunately, I couldn't.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The famous taxi scene was unscripted, according to Hoffman and Voight.

Dustin Hoffman kept pebbles in his shoe in order to keep his limp consistent.

Only X-rated film to win Best Picture.

Trailer:




Monday, September 1, 2014

495. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1969
Directed by George Roy Hill










My mother has a slight obsession with all things Butch Cassidy, so I grew up watching this movie (although the part with Katharine Ross undressing was always fast forwarded).  Unfortunately, this obsession led to me being forced to read some pretty nauseating literature.  In any case, this is a movie I am quite familiar and would recommend to anyone interested in the western genre.

The film follows the adventures of Butch and Sundance as they attempt to elude a posse of lawmen after a robbery goes south.   Their escape takes them all the way to Bolivia, where, along with Sundance's girlfriend Etta Place, they become even bigger outlaws then they ever were in the States.

If the film was crap, the chemistry between Redford and Newman would redeem it completely.  Fortunately, the film isn't complete crap, though I do still have some complaints.

Did anyone else feel like the ending was kind of ripping off Bonnie and Clyde?  The last scene is not historically accurate so it is not like it is just a coincidence that the endings are similar.  I realize they weren't exactly the same but I couldn't help comparing the two and I have to say, Bonnie and Clyde came out on top.

Still, a very entertaining movie with absolutely fantastic acting although get ready for some loooong chase scenes.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Butch Cassidy's sister would often visit the set and was amazed at how accurate Paul Newman's portrayal of him was.

Katharine Ross was forbidden to be on set by George Roy Hill when she wasn't filming because she operated a camera.  Ass.

Etta Place's fate and true identity are still unknown.

#73 in AFI's top 100.

Trailer:




Saturday, August 30, 2014

494. Hsia Nu

Hsia Nu
A Touch of Zen
1969
Directed by King Hu











I apologize again for not posting lately.  Finding these movies lately has been an adventure in itself and I haven't really been in the adventurous mood.  Particularly adventures involving illegal downloads and crappy subtitles.

This movie is almost impossible to find with subtitles so I had to use the old "download the subtitles and read along and half through the movie realize I have been behind by one scene the entire time which is why I have been hopelessly lost the whole time".  Thankfully, once I realized that the mother was somehow also the love interest of the son, it was quite enjoyable.

Ku is an artist, who much to his mother's disappointment, has no interest in becoming a government official.  He falls for his neighbor Yang who, of course, is secretly a fugitive princess.

This film falls under the wuxia, or the sword and sorcery, genre.  I personally love martial arts movies and any film that reverses gender roles soothes the angry feminist within.  While Ku is a pretty clueless and useless character, Yang kicks ass.  Although I should add that Ku grows into more of a man after bedding Yang, which gave me horrible American Pie flashbacks.

My only complaint would be that the fighting wasn't great, but there are plenty of great martial arts films on the horizon that excel in that respect.  Definitely worth checking out.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Originally divided into two parts.

Monday, August 25, 2014

493. Lucia

Lucia
1968
Directed by Humberto Solas










It has been way too long since I last posted, so I apologize.  I struggled to find this one and when I finally did track it down, I was too busy to pop it in since I am in the process of moving.  Rather than face the horror of unpacking my kitchen supplies, I decided to finally knock this out.

This movie is divided into three parts, each one based on a character named Lucia.  The firstLucia falls in love with married stranger, who may or may not be plotting against her nationalist brother.  The second Lucia falls in love with a revolutionary and must deal with the consequences of his actions.  Stay away from the soldiers ladies.  The final Lucia is treated as a slave by her husband.  This is the only section that attempts to be comedic, but I just found it to be disturbing.  The moral seems to be "well, at least it isn't as bad as it was."  I don't mind watching the women's rights movement develop, but I am certainly not going to laugh at people's reluctance to provide equality.  Please excuse my extreme crankiness; it has not been a good day.

Did anyone else feel like they were watching videos shot by some creepy guy behind the bushes?  I am not sure why I got that vibe, but I have seen enough horror films to be properly freaked out by it.

I have to leave soon, so I am going to wrap this up by saying that parts of this film were so overreacted that it was sometimes a bit hard to watch.  Skippable.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Winner of the Golden Prize and the Prix FIPRESCI.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

492. Ma nuit chez Maud

Ma Nuit Chez Maud
My Night at Maud's
1969
Directed by Eric Rohmer









I have been away from this blog for a little bit, so I apologize.  My birthday was a few days ago and I have also been extremely busy doing physical therapy for my leg and then moping about the pain afterward (which takes almost as much energy!).  Anyway, I am back for now so let's crank these out.

I watched about twenty minutes of this movie before realizing that I hadn't taken in a word.  Being the diligent blogger that I am, I restarted the film.  I am so pleased that I did, because this really is a fantastic movie.

Strictly Catholic Jean-Louis runs into an old friend, Vidal, who takes him to his lover's house.  For the duration of the film, the three of them discuss philosophy, religion, and love.  When Vidal leaves, however, Jean-Louis struggles to decide what he wants to do with Maud, particularly because he is already in love with someone else.

I absolutely love discussions about philosophy and religion (though not when someone just posts a bunch of random scripture in the comments sections; ahem).  I know I don't sound half as eloquent as the characters in this film, but I still have a lot of fun listening to new ideas about the way the world works.  So this was an entertaining film for me, although I can see how it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

I don't do spoilers on this site, but I will say that I loved the struggle that Jean-Louis went through.  Is it better to regret doing something or to regret not doing something?  Should we ask for permission or forgiveness?

Definitely a film I would recommend to people who love good dialogue!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

There seem to be two English titles for this film: "My Night at Maud's" or "My Night with Maud".  I am in no way fluent in French (though sometimes I pretend to be) but isn't the first title more accurate since it "chez Maud" and not "avec Maud"?  Thoughts?

Third of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales.







Friday, August 1, 2014

491. Night of the Living Dead

Night of The Living Dead
1968
Directed by George Romero










Zombies film have never exactly scared me, but they are still one of my favorite sub genres of horror.  The dialogue and special effects can be silly or serious and ultimately effective either way.

Siblings Johnny and Barbra are on their way to pay respects to their father's grave.   Just as Johnny is about to scare Barbra as a prank, the two of them are attacked by zombies. Barbra lives and must band together with other survivors in order to figure out how to live through the onslaught of murderous monsters.

The true greatness of this film stems from the interactions between the humans rather than the attacks from the zombies.  It kind of reminded me of Hitchcock's Lifeboat or Ford's Stagecoach: a group of people having to abandon their prejudices and trust issues in order to survive.  The difference here is that the chances of ever getting back to normal are slim to none.

This is probably the best zombie film I ever seen.  Great dialogue and hey, entertaining action to boot.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of the most successful independent films of all time.

First movie filmed in Pittsburgh. My home town. Yay!

Trailer:

Friday, July 11, 2014

490. Targets

Targets
1968
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich










We finally get to a really good film after a string of absolute snores.  I have never heard anyone mention this film before in my life, but it turned out to a really great find from The List.

The story revolves around a young Vietnam veteran who kills his mother and wife before going on a shooting spree at a local drive in.  Meanwhile, a faded movie star struggles to be relevant (or as I call it, The Robin Williams story).

I am fervently against acknowledging mass shooters or romanticizing them in fiction.  However, this film's depiction of the killer, who is loosely based on Charles Witman, is very artfully done.  I was entertained and interested the entire time, without feeling like the filmmakers were glorifying anyone or promoting anything.

The use of Boris Karloff is absolutely brilliant and kind of made me miss doing earlier films.  It is a pretty upsetting film, but a very successful thriller.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Boris Karloff lived just long enough to see the finished film and receive the praise he deserved for his role in it.

Trailer:

489. Vargtimmen

Vargtimmen
Hour of the Wolf
1968
Directed by Ingmar Bergman















Well, here we are again.  We all have the drill down by now?  I hate this filmmaker and his style?  So let's get in and get out people!

Confusing things start to happen but we don't know if they are actually happening or if they are imaginary.  This movie probably has the most intriguing premise, but the delivery is just the same as his other films; which I always hate.

Is the slew of Bergman over yet?  Can I please open my eyes again??

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The Hour of the Wolf is said to be around 4 am.

Trailer:

488. 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey
1968
Directed by Stanley Kubrick











So since we warmed up with a nice dull Bergman film for the last entry, why don't we tackle the epitome of boring films: 2001: A Space Odyssey?  Don't worry, there is another Bergman after this that we can use as a cool down.

In the history of uninteresting movies, this one might have the most promising beginning.  The opening scene is so iconic that it should be the one scene you don't fast forward through. The 140+ minute film centers on a manned expedition that is slowly derailed by the spaceship's unbalanced computer named HAL.

I feel like the concept of a computer becoming dangerous has the potential to be a mediocre sci fi film.  However, that is not the direction Kubrick takes with it so it is simply a terrible and pretentious horror.  I am not referring to the horror genre here; I am referring to what I felt every time I would glance at the screen.

Some people, of course, think this is a masterpiece and I can see where they are coming from (most likely a very high horse).  Cinematically, it is quite beautiful.  But honestly, I am more of a story person.  And less of a no compelling story at all person.

Blah.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

241 people walked out of one of the first screenings.

There is 24 minutes of footage before there is any dialogue in the film.

Trailer:

487. Skammen

Skammen
Shame
1968
Directed by Ingmar Bergman















My frequent readers (and even my non frequent readers since he is constantly appearing) know that I am not a fan of Bergman.  I simply don't like his style and I find his movies to be a power sleeping aid.  Unfortunately, I have to keep repeating this and you have to keep reading it because he WON'T GO AWAY!  Attention Listmakers: if a set of films are all the same, one is enough!!!  I know the plots can be drastically different, but somehow or another we always end up in the same place: watching a sad man having some sort of weird dream.

Okay so Through the Wild Hour of Persona Shame follows a couple whose lives are completely destroyed by the war as each are forced to look at the other in a new, harsher light.  I know that is an incredibly broad summary but I can't really think of another way to write it without spoiling anything.

I am sure both Larry and Ray will be able to explain this film better in the comments section, so perhaps I shall leave it to them.  I will say that this movie certainly succeeds in being disturbing.  The casting was quite brilliantly effective. Every time Liv Ullman was on the screen I felt vaguely upset; she is so innocent and beautiful!  So in that very tiny, tiny way I will give Bergman credit; I really felt connected to the characters.  There, I was nice.  Gentlemen, take it away.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Bergman was unhappy with this film and felt like it came across as poor and uneven.  I could kiss this man.  Yes, I agree, Ingmar!

Trailer:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Versatile Blogger Award!

Andrew, from 1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die, was kind enough to AGAIN nominate me for an award!  This guy is an amazing writer (and my personal blogging guardian angel) so be sure to check him out!  I am always checking his sites for updates and every time I see a new movie, I have to see what he says about it!  Click here to get to his site!

So the rules state that I must now state seven interesting facts about myself.  Here we go!
1. Everyone in my family calls me Panda.  My sister actually got a panda tattoo on her leg just for me!
2. This one is for you Ray.  I absolutely love British candy!  My favorites are Fizzy Strawberry Laces, Milky Bars, Cadbury Fudge, and Galaxy chocolate.
3. I am super good at jigsaw puzzles.  I do some of my best thinking when I am working on a puzzle.
4. I visited a psychic once with my sister.  He said that I was also psychic and that he could see me being divorced quite a few times.  It was a very strange experience!
5. I skipped the crawling phase altogether when I was kid and would instead roll everywhere.
6. I think the most attractive thing a man can have is a good sense of humor.  And good arms...
7. I am an atheist but when I was little I used to carry around a small New Testament every where I went.
8. I have a really brilliant older brother who gives the best advice and has always helped me out in classes.  We will all be working for him one day.
9. When I get nervous (like when a guy I like hits on me), I start to feel really nauseated.  So no compliments please!
10.  I rode a horse to the top of a mountain in Maui.  It was incredibly beautiful but the riding hurt like hell.  How do people do that?
11.  When I wasn't rolling into furniture, I was making up intricate universes with my sister, using Beanie Babies in Barbie houses.  Some families were communists, while others were single mothers trying to make it in the world.

My final task is to nominate other bloggers for the Award.  As always, though, I am a few short on blogs to nominate.  If you want me to check out your blog, you can leave your URL in the comments; I love finding new blogs to read!

I always have fun with these and I hope you enjoyed reading my answers.  Ugh, fun's over; back to Bergman.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

486. David Holzman's Diary

David Holzman's Diary
1968
Directed by Jim McBride















My sister loves to watch people's vlogs on YouTube, which I never could understand.  Nobody is interesting all the time.  Well, David Holzman is not interesting any of the time.  Unfortunately, we still are forced to observe his life for a couple hours.

I was excited about the beginning of the movie.  David reveals that he plans on taping every part of his life for a month in order to make some truth out of his existence.  Well, we all know how fond I am of lists and projects.  Unfortunately, David's girlfriend is, understandably, not a fan of this idea.  Throughout the film, David's life goes downhill and he consequently becomes a huge creeper.

I feel like this film could have been something great.  I love it when people realize how dull and insignificant their lives are in film.  But why does David have to be such an unsympathetic character?  The fact that he is so boring, whiny, and apathetic kind of took away any impact that this film could have had.  Honestly, any Hollywood movie could have showed us that bad things happen to bad people.

Another miss for me and a waste of a good opportunity for the filmmakers.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Shot on a budget of $2,500.

485. The Producers

The Producers
1968
Directed by Mel Brooks











It was hard to come into this movie without prejudice.  I have seen Blazing Saddles for heaven's sake; I know what Mel Brooks is capable of.  This is a really good movie, though; by God, we have no idea what is to come.

A nerdy accountant and a crooked play producer figure out that they could make a lot more money on a play that flopped than a play that was successful because wealthy investors would not expect their money back if it was a complete failure.  They choose the absolute worst play they could of, Springtime With Hitler.  However, it is a bit harder than they expect to stage a flop.

This movie's premise is a lot better than the execution.  What I mean is, there won't be a joke a minute that will keep you hysterical.  Instead, it is the entire absurd story that will keep you interested and amused.  That being said, a more modern audience might not like this comedy as much since comedies today usually have a punchline every eight seconds.


I personally liked it; though, again, it wasn't by any means the funniest film I have ever seen.  The two lead actors are absolutely fantastic.  Mel Brooks, how could you become such a monster?

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

First use of the term "creative accounting".

One of Premiere's "50 Greatest Comedies of All Time".

Mel Brooks' directorial debut.

Trailer:


484. Memorias del Subdesarrollo

Memorias del Subdesarrollo
Memories of Underdevelopment
1968
Directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea










I am so behind in this blog, it is ridiculous.  The mounting number of posts I have to write has failed to be a motivator; in fact, I have been procrastinating for the past two days.  I am finally settling down to write and hopefully make a dent in the 10+ posts I have to write...

Our main slime ball character, Sergio, decides to stay in Cuba, even though most people, including his wife, are fleeing to Miami due to the violence and social changes.  I guess he wants more time to sleep with his girlfriends without his wife's interference?

I did not like this film at all.  I felt like it was a worse version of Hiroshima Mon Amour.  The style was all over the place as well.  I get that it was trying to resemble how we recall our own memories but I was already confused about the events in the film.  So basically I have no idea what happened.  Why are subtitles always so terrible?

Anyway, sorry for the short review; we got lots to do people!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Heavily influenced by Hiroshima Mon Amour.  HA!  Knew it!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

483. If...

If...
1968
Directed by Lindsay Anderson











After this post I will FINALLY be caught up on this blog.  Thankfully, I don't have too much to say about this one, since it is basically Zero for Conduct, which I reviewed already.

Three non conformist boys attend a school that students are brutally abused.  They fantasize about killing all their teachers.  Needless to say, in this today's climate I found this to be highly disturbing.  Also the movie switches between black and white and color because of budgetary restrictions or artistic pretentiousness or something equally ridiculous.  This makes for a incoherent and disconcerting movie.

Additionally, I am not a huge Malcolm McDowell fan; in fact, I can't remember a film I have see him in  without walking away with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Go for the superior Zero film, if you want to watch a movie about school boy rebellion.  Why you would want to, I don't know.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The nude scene of "The Girl" was McDowell's suggestion, since he wanted to see the actress nude.

First film of Malcolm McDowell's.

Trailer:



482. Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby
1968
Directed by Roman Polanski









I often talk about how much I love horror films, often to strangers I have just met, much to their chagrin.  Movies just don't get more visual, more interactive, and more memorable than when blood is spurting everywhere.  Well, the blood is optional but you get the point.

Rosemary's Baby is one of the best horror films I have ever seen.  It is certainly not the scariest (although the last scene always gave me the creeps; what you don't see always scares me more than what you do see), but it is a really thrilling ride.

Rosemary and her husband Guy move into a new apartment which even beats Rear Window for the Creepiest Neighbors Award.  They decide to have a baby but the conception...well, let's just say it is grounds for divorce.  Slowly (a little too slowly sometimes), Rosemary realizes that something is wrong.

The most vulnerable beings I can think of are infants and pregnant women.  Both of these things are in danger throughout the entire film.  Additionally, I have a great support system, and I can't think of anything more terrifying than realizing I can't trust anyone.

I am not saying this is the best film but it is definitely worth a watch, particularly if you are interested in studying the development of the horror genre.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Mia Farrow was served divorce papers on set.

Mia Farrow actually ate real raw liver for the film.

Said to be an extremely faithful adaptation of the book.

Trailer:


481. Faces

Faces
1968
Directed by John Cassavetes















After traveling through film to quite a few different countries, we finally land in Pretentiousguay.  Watching a film that was desperately trying to be a Godard for over two hours was absolutely exhausting.

A middle-aged couple's marriage is clearly disintegrating and we have to watch them awkwardly interact with other people.  An alternate title for this was "Every Dinner Party I Have Ever Attended".

I believe that if you are going to use the cinema verite style, your movie should not be over two hours.  I mean, that gets a little dull for even the most exciting films.  I even love to listen to dialogue, but none of it was that compelling.  I just wanted to tell everyone to shut up and let the lawyers do their thing.

Just incredibly dull and boring.  Skip it!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Steve Buscemi's favorite film.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

480. Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes
1968
Directed by Franklin Schaffer











Isn't there yet another sequel coming out soon?  Ugh.  Give it a rest already.  It is good, it's not that good!

A crew of astronauts have been traveling for eighteen months through hyperspace (so it has actually been like a thousand years because science...) when their spaceship crash lands on an unknown planet. After a group of humans raid their camp, they quickly realize that apes in charge of the entire planet, while humans are hunted, killed, or captured.  Guess which one happens to the black guy!  Guess which one happens to the heroic white guy!  Go on, guess!

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you might already know how I feel about Charlton Heston.  He is a boring actor to watch, even when he is competing with Al Pacino for the Most Overacting Actor of All Time.  That being said, this was probably the best film I have seen him in.  The fact that this movie isn't just unforgivably silly because of the costumes is a great accomplishment.  I even thought some of the apes were hot.  Too much information?

In any case, this is a great and entertaining film, even if you aren't into science fiction as a rule.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of the first films to profit heavily from merchandising.

Ingrid Bergman was offered the role of Zira originally but turned it down, a decision she regretted in later years.



479. C'era una volta il West

C'era una volta il West
Once Upon a Time in the West
1968
Directed by Sergio Leone












After a string of "I guess I can see the merit in that" movies, we finally get to a really great film.  Not only is Henry Fonda a bad guy (really take a moment to let that soak in people), but women are only slightly degraded!  That is a big step up for westerns, ladies and gentlemen.

A railroad tycoon sends the evil Frank to bully a landowner into selling his land to the railroad.  Frank ends up killing the guy's entire family instead.  Whoopsies.  Anyway, it turns out the landowner had a new wife, a former prostitute (and I thought meeting guys on Tinder was embarrassing) that actually inherits the land.  What a silly misunderstanding!  Meanwhile, Frank is being pursued by a mysterious man with a harmonica.

Like I said, this is just a fantastic movie that I think is even better than The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  I always love a good revenge tale and that is just a small part of this great story.  The action is great without being upsetting, the characters are well rounded and interesting, and, of course, the style is beautiful.

One of the best westerns I have ever seen.  Check it out!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

One of the actors that played a gunman committed suicide after a day of shooting.

Trailer:



Monday, June 30, 2014

478. Gaav

Gaav
The Cow
1968
Directed by Dariush Mehrjui












This is a love story between a man and his cow.  That's right.  Does the very idea of that exhaust you?  I guess it is worth it because this film inspired more cinema from the Middle East.  So let's take a trip to Pretentiousland for the sake of the future.

Hassan loves his cow.  He leaves his village for a short time and unfortunately, the cow dies while he is gone.  The villagers tell Hassan that the cow ran away because they knew things would get weird if he knew the truth.  Things get weird anyway and Hassan starts pretending to be a cow.  All right then.

I don't have much to say about this film, so I will keep it short.  It was clearly trying to make me feel something that I just wasn't feeling.  Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of the cow: it was his companion, the only one in the village, his pride and joy, etc.  But there are so many movies about the loss of someone really special in your life (whether it is a child or a sibling) that this film just felt like an emotional step down.  I might be the only one that felt that way, so you may want to give this film a shot.

That is my scattered review on The Cow.  I was never into pet films, so I advise skipping this one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

A disclaimer was tacked on by the film's financial backers saying that the story took place long before the current regime in Iran.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

477. Viy

Viy
1967
Directed by Kostantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov















I really did try to watch this earlier.  I asked my sister to watch it with me but somehow, when she found out that it was a Russian 1967 folktale, the viewing of the film kept getting rescheduled.  Finally, I settled down to watch it yesterday.  While I would have liked to have proved my sister wrong by being blown away by this film, I am afraid that wasn't the case.

Three monks are on their way home when they got lost.  It is hard to sympathize with these characters since they torture goats and attack women beforehand.  In any case, they stumble upon a house owned by a sexually aggressive old lady.  She rides one of the men to...wait, for clarity's sake she climbs on top of him...ugh.

Anyway, she magically transforms into a beautiful young woman and one of the monks is forced to stay with her corpse for three nights to read her last rites.  Shit gets weird.

The special effects in this film were impressive for the time, but still pretty laughable.  I felt like the middle of the movie was building up to an ending that really didn't deliver.  No spoilers here but Jabba the Hut makes an appearance.

So a good movie to watch if you want to see the development of special effects but otherwise, quite forgettable.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Based on a Ukranian folk tale.





Friday, June 20, 2014

476. Ostře sledované vlaky

Ostre sledovane vlaky
Closely Watched Trains
1967
Directed by Jiri Menzel










Today when I went to tick this one off my List, I was surprised to see I already had.  When did this happen?  I watched the entire film yesterday without having a single instance of deja vu.  I think I need to start doing memory exercises.

Milos is on his way to his first day of work as a station guard.  He briefly tells us about the history of his family (which includes a particularly unfortunate hypnotist).  He decided to become a station guard because he really just wanted to do nothing with his life but sit and watch other people work.  He has a crush on a pretty train conductor, but has some...um...trouble performing.  Does this sound like a Judd Apatow movie to you?  It did to me...well, at least until the Nazis showed up.

I knew going in that a comedy from 1967 Czechoslovakia wouldn't exactly have me doubled over laughing.  I was right on that score; I hardly even cracked a smile.  So on that level the filmed failed for me, although I realize that that is not really the filmmakers' fault.

However, if I view this film as a drama, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and it managed to show the war in a way that didn't make caricatures out of anyone.  Milos was a fun character to watch, even though his actions seemed a bit contrived at times.

I will enjoy the memory of this film until it goes away, which will apparently only be a few weeks.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

We got a horror film coming up next.  Yay!

Monday, June 16, 2014

475. Terra em Transe

Terra em Transe
Earth Entranced or Entranced Earth
1967
Directed by Glauber Rocha













I am not going to lie to you guys, this one was a bore.  I tried to pay attention and enjoy myself since this is one of the few Brazilian films on The List.  Unfortunately, I kept tuning in and out and have subsequently put off writing this review, since I have no idea how to write a plot summary.

Ugh, how do I even bullshit this?  Someone didn't want a war but another guy thought it was for the greater good, I guess?  If anyone wants to do a better job than I did here, feel free to enlighten everyone (including me) in the comments section.

What can I say about a movie that left absolutely no impression on me?  I wish that it had, since I always like experiencing cinema from across the world (*winks to camera*).  Just dull and confusing; I would advise my readers to take a pass on this one.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Initially forbidden to be shown in Brazil.