Sunday, September 28, 2014

506. Sayat Nova

Sayat Nova
The Color of Pomegranates
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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

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
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.


Monday, September 1, 2014

495. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
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.