Thursday, April 24, 2014

464. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
The Young Ladies of Rochefort
Directed by Jacques Demy

We finally reach the end of a long streak of movies I have seen.  I hope I provided you with plenty of reading material and I will try to get back to this blog as soon as possible, although I have been neglecting my album and book blogs as of late.  Anyway, I absolutely adore this movie and can see watching it again and again.

Catherine Deneuve (wow that was quick) and Francoise Dorleac are two sisters, who long for romance outside of Rochefort.  And wait, what is Gene Kelly doing here?

Wow, what a fun movie.  You can see how colorful and beautiful the movie is simply from the above picture.  The songs are great and the entire cast is extremely talented.  This makes Umbrellas of Cherbourg look like...something worse than this film.  Sorry it is 12:11 AM.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Demy had to wait two years for Gene Kelly to be available for the film.

Best song in the movie:

463. Belle de Jour

Belle de Jour
Directed by Luis Bunuel

Wow, how old is Bunuel at this time?  He was making movies in 1930!  Well, thankfully he has still got it.

Severine, played by the lovely Catherine Deneuve, is a bored, sexually repressed wife who decides to become a prostitute to live out her sexual desires.  This movie blends a lot of fantasy and reality, but unlike some other pretentious films, it is done in a non annoying way.

I sound like I absolutely love this film, but really, I didn't enjoy it too much.  I can certainly appreciate it and found it a lot more insightful and entertaining that 2 or 3 Things.  Still, I found a lot of the characters to be unsympathetic and annoying.  What was really holding Severine back?  I mean, I know society is holding her back blah blah blah whatever.  Characters that don't help themselves are the most annoying people to watch.

This film is gorgeous and Catherine Deneuve is always fascinating to watch.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Bunuel himself didn't know what the ending meant.


462. Hombre

Directed by Martin Ritt

I am personally a big fan of Westerns and have missed seeing them so frequently.  This is an exceptional movie that is highly reminiscent of Stagecoach.  Unfortunately, it is not without its dead time.

Paul Newman was kidnapped by the Apache when he was a child and was brought up as one of them (don't tell John Wayne that).  When a stagecoach that he is on is suddenly attacked by a gang, Newman must decide whether to save his fellow, somewhat racist, passengers or if he let them fight for themselves.

This is a fun western to see; it was refreshing to see one that actually portrayed women and Native Americans in a positive light for once.  Paul Newman, though great to look at, can be a bit wooden at times, but fortunately, this was true to the character he played.  Like I said, there were times when I was looking at the time, but it is a great movie and well worth a watch.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Picture at the end of the film was taken in 1886.


461. Report

Directed by Bruce Conner

This is an extremely upset 13 minutes that is somewhat hard to find, so if you are on a List quest you should start looking for it early.

I am not going to spend to much time on this film, since it is not exactly something that I can review.  There is some reediting of found footage after the Kennedy assassination but thankfully, nothing too graphic.

A very powerful film and one that definitely deserves to be on The List.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

None, sorry.  Let me know if you can't find a link and I will try to help!

460. Playtime

Directed by Jacques Tati

I really thoughts the days of having to endure silent comedies were over (though quite a few of them were enjoyable, a lot of endurance was required to get through them all).  However, here we are presented with Jacques Tati's Playtime.  Although it is not a silent comedy, his hijinks certainly play out that way and it is actually quite a tiresome watch.

Monsieur Hulot (Jesus, is there a character I have missed less?), is back for another performance.  He plays a confused Frenchman who is unable to adapt to the modernity of Paris.  It is kind of like watching your grandparents struggle with new technology.  Mildly amusing, but there comes a point where you just what to yell at them since you feel like the task they are having trouble with couldn't be any simpler.

Simply not funny and I have no idea why Tati got three movies on The List.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The failure of this film left Tati in debt for a decade.

459. The Graduate

The Graduate
Directed by Mike Nichols

This is one of the most iconic movies in existence, and if you have never seen it you can at the very least misquote it as well as anybody.

Benjamin Braddock is a recent graduate who has no idea what to do with his life.  He is seduced by his much older neighbor, Mrs. Robinson, but eventually begins to fall for her daughter.  This reasoning is never really explained, since their chemistry nor their intellectual connection is not very great.

I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, but aren't the last shots of this movie completely heartbreaking?  I think the last scene does more for the entire message of emptiness than any of the conversations shown in the movie.

My biggest complaint with this film is that it was not entirely sure what it wanted to be.  There were scenes that were downright goofy and then a man was accused of raping the mother of the woman he loves.  While I am all for a mix of genres, some of the scenes just did not seem to blend.

Overall, a great movie with an exceptional soundtrack (my sister and I used to listen to Mrs. Robinson everyday on our way to high school).

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Dustin Hoffman was extremely awkward during his auditions, which was exactly what Nichols was looking for.

Linda Gray played the leg in the promotional poster.  That was my favorite character.

#17 of AFI's top 100.


458. 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle

2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle
Two or Three Things I Know About Her
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

This is our seventh Godard film on The List and I feel as though as the years have progressed, Godard has cared less and less about plots and characters.  Instead, his films have simply become platforms where he can complain about society.  I enjoy subtle commentary, but this is getting a tad ridiculous.

The film is about (that might be too specific a term for this movie) Juliette Jeanson, a married mother who spends her days prostituting herself, seemingly to make ends meet.  Occasionally the characters will break the fourth wall and ramble about this and that directly to the camera.

With Bell de Jour coming up, I can't help compare this film to other movies that address prostitution in somewhat casual, and not at all erotic, terms.  It falls completely short of anything I have seen.  I found the narrative structure to be annoying and pretentious, without revealing any cultural truths of interest.

I am liking Godard less and less.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Screenshot of Vivre Sa Vie can be seen on the wall.

457. Au Hasard Balthazar

Au Hasard Balthazar
Directed by Robert Bresson

Has it really been two weeks since I last posted?  I have been extremely busy and today only managed to squeeze this movie in while I was unpacking.  Unpacking has to be one of the biggest pains in the asses (besides when people say anyways) as it always takes about triple the time that I think it will.  ANYWAY, this wasn't exactly the welcome back gift that I would have wanted.

Balthazar is a donkey is passed around from owner to owner.  First of all, isn't that the name of a demon?  I am pretty sure it showed up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Regardless, Balthazar's journey is paralleled by his most beloved owner Marie.  They discover zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sorry, I fell asleep and my head hit the keyboard.  Man, this movie was a snore that was just way too sentimental for me.  Additionally, Marie is just a super annoying character that had me yelling at the screen more than once.  In one scene, Marie demands that a farmer let her stay in the barn.  She then goes on to offer him a kiss for his kindness, assure him that no one knows she is there, and hands him all her clothes.   Goodness, I hope she never has daughters.

I also don't really understand what the message is here. That the meek shall inherit the Earth?  That is just upsetting.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The donkey was untrained for the most part, making the movie especially hard to film.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

456. Masculin-Feminin

Masculine Feminine
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

I have been receiving a lot of bad news lately, so I was really eager to get lost in a good movie.  Well this wasn't exactly the movie for escapism, it was still a good film and Godard continues to impress.

Paul, a romantic revolutionary, becomes infatuated (obsessed) with the girl pictured above and proceeds to pursue her (stalk her).  Maybe she doesn't like him because the best compliment he can come up with is "you have classy breasts"?  Just a theory.

Anyway, the film is interspersed with title cards that are difficult to connect to the plot along with pseudo interviews imitating the cinema verite style.

This is one of those movies that was made for a very specific time and place.  The translation to today is a little bit spotty, but it is still an interesting watch.  There was, however, plenty of dead time that I wish Godard would have eliminated.

Great songs and a decent movie.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Meant for an audience of under 18 according to Godard.

Sorry for the somewhat short and vague review.  Busy day.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

455. Persona

Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Ugh, another Bergman film, another wasted 83 minutes.  I am going to keep this really short since my "Bergman is always boring" defense is probably getting quite old.

An actress refuses to talk so is put in the care of a pretty crazy nurse.  Nonsensical imagery and northern European gloom ensue.

This is another dull film that makes about zero sense.  Unfortunately, I don't care enough to try to dissect it.  What's with the film crew at the end?  Oh, who gives a damn.

I do, however, encourage you to leave comments that tell me some truths this film reveals and why it is worth anyone's time.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Bergman fell in love with Ullman during the course of filming.

Available on YouTube:

454. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Directed by Mike Nichols

Even though In the Heat of the Night is listed in the Book as a 1967 film, it comes before Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which is listed as a 1966 movie.  What?  Oh well, we will follow the Book, even though we know it is wrong.  It is the American way.

I have witnessed my fair share of couple fights, which are always horribly awkward and uncomfortable. Usually, I make a run for the bathroom or become very interested in the ceiling design.  Occasionally, I will make the situation a lot worse but interjecting and saying something stupid.  Anyway, watching this film was just as bad as being a third wheel to a feuding couple.

Martha invites a young couple to her house for drinks, unbeknownst to her husband.  They pretty much scream at each other throughout the entire movie, which succeeds in giving me a headache and impressing film buffs.

I tend to not like films that are so obviously meant to be plays.  If you are going to change mediums, at least make the experience seem cinematic.  I felt incredibly trapped in that house, which I guess is how the director wants you to feel throughout the film.  Still, it was not an enjoyable experience and while I understand why some people would like this, I just wanted it to end.

Although I do have to say there is a pretty cool twist at the end.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Taylor gained 30 pounds for her role in this film.

#67 in AFI's top 100.

All credited actors received Oscar nominations for this film.


453. In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night
Directed by Norman Jewison

I saw this film quite awhile ago, pre List and pre Best Picture winners, when I was watching AFi's top 100 movies (I have an unhealthy list addiction in case you haven't figured that out yet).  Anyway, while I can't say this film left the strongest impression, I do agree that it is a worthy addition to the List.

Virgil Tibbs, played by Sidney Poitier, is just passing through a Southern town so, of course, is taken to the police station.  When it is revealed that Tibbs is actually a homicide detective in Philadelphia (side note: why is the line not "They call me Detective Tibbs?"), he is urged by both the mayor and his own chief to stay and solve a recent murder.  The catch is, he has to work with a racist Southern police chief (was that too repetitive?).

I have never been that much of a fan of films or books dealing with race issues in the South.  They tend to just upset and disgust me, without ever bringing anything new to the table.  However, I do have to give credit to this film.  Of course, the acting was fantastic, but I was impressed most by the story.  Sure, it was a bit contrived, but it had me guessing the entire movie and was never boring.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Poitier refused to shoot in the South, having been attacked by the KKK before.

Rod Steiger was asked by the director to always be chewing gums during his scenes.  Is that where the "jerk police officer chews gum in your face" trope started?

#75 in AFI's top 100.

They Call Me...

452. Seconds

Directed by John Frankenheimer

I, once again, persuaded non list followers to watch a List movie with me (this time victimizing my parents) and they were, once again, weirded out and wished that they hadn't.  Kind of the like when a guy goes on a date with me...ouch, that was mean, me!

Arthur Hamilton is in the middle of a mid life crisis when he is approached by the Company.  The Company fakes people's deaths, then gives them a new face and identity to start their life over.  Hamilton decides "wait, who wouldn't want to look like Rock Hudson?" and goes along with it.  Then there is a weird scene with hippies and alcohol that is sure to give you trippy nightmares.

I am not a huge fan of Frankenheimer's psychedelic directing style, but that really is not what bothered me about this film.  The story simply was not sustainable for an entire movie, at least with the way it was handled in this film.  It would have been a great episode of the Twilight Zone; unfortunately, after the first forty five minutes, it lost its way significantly, and become a slight shit show.

Additionally, if you want to see great acting, a Rock Hudson movie isn't exactly the place to start.  Still, it had exciting moments and some good twists.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Panned by critics upon its release.

The director originally wanted Kirk Douglas or Laurence Olivier for the lead role, but ended up casting Hudson instead.  Frankenheimer went on to believe that Hudson was perfectly cast.


Friday, April 4, 2014

451. Da zui xia

Da zui xia
Come and Drink with Me
Directed by King Hu

I should preface this review by saying I love martial arts movies.  If you really want to explore the genre, you have to um, carve your way through a lot of cheese, so to speak, before you get to any good stuff.  As such, I have a very high tolerance for cheesiness with this movies; I would say more so than the average person.  But I have to admit, some of the scenes in this movie even had me cringing.  At the very least, this is a fun film to mock with friends (she wrote as she sat alone on a Friday night).

The plot of these movies is never really important but I will do a brief summary anyway.  The general's son is taken hostage so his daughter, Golden Swallow (no comment), is sent to rescue him.  Yay, a female is sent to rescue a male?  And she fights off a bunch of warriors?  Yes...wait what do you mean she still ultimately has to be saved by a man who ends up stealing the show?  Damn, better luck next time.  I guess we will try again with Thelma and Louise.

Like I said, the plot isn't that important.  What is really crucial is having amazing fight scenes.  And wow, the fights were just horrifying.  I mean, offensively bad.  Like none of them had ever seen a sword before, let alone held one.  I do have to give them credit for their fake blood, which looked quite real, except when it was randomly spurting out of sword wounds.

I have no idea why this is on The List but I did have fun with it.  Even though it was terrible, it was never boring, which I suppose is something.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Quentin Taratino is rumored to be interested in directing a remake.

Jackie Chan supposedly appeared as a child singer in the beginning of the film.

Somewhat hard to find so if anyone needs a link to this let me know.  What's with all the obscure films lately?  The Listmakers are testing me.  I hope I am worthy!