Wednesday, December 23, 2015

647. Breaking Away

Breaking Away
Directed by Peter Yates

A coming of age, sports movie!  I went in knowing that I would hate it, which probably wasn't the fairest strategy.  But honestly, I felt as though I was watching a cheesy sitcom that just wouldn't end.

Four recent high school graduates are uncertain what they want to do with the rest of their lives.  Weirdly enough, the most interesting one is obsessed with biking and Italian culture.  He meets a girl and pretends to be Italian in order to get her to like him.  Because, you know.  Movie logic.

This movie is incredibly cliche, but I can't honestly say that is why I disliked it so much, as there are plenty of cliche films I enjoy.  I just found the characters to be exceedingly dull.  They all seemed to have only one or two traits and any bad traits were erased by the end of the movie.  Also, I will always hate sports movies, so there is really no wiggle room there.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The actual term for the Bloomington townies was stoners, but the filmmakers changed it to cutters to avoid some, um, misunderstandings.

646. Alien

Directed by Ridley Scott

So I am about to praise Alien after panning Stalker.  Do film buffs want to strangle me right about now?  Well, you have will have to get in line behind the music fans.

What's not to like about this movie?  It's a slasher film in space!  The Nostromo is a spacecraft returning to Earth with a seven member crew.  The ship picks up a transmission from a nearby planetoid and the crew goes out to investigate.  They find some pretty disgusting things.  More gross moments ensue.

I absolutely loved that there was a strong female character in this one.  Sure, there is usually one woman that survives a slasher film, but that is mostly through the power of her untouched vagina, rather than actually using her brain.  I am also quite pleased that this director cares if his audience is bored.  That doesn't seem to be a concern of our filmmakers lately.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Passes the Bechdel test!  Yay!

Ridley Scott has said that the Alien universe is the same as the Blade Runner universe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

645. Stalker

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

I am having a bit of a rough day today and, as we all know, the cure to any hard day is to watch a really long, confusing Russian film.  Thankfully, I think we are finally done with Tarkovsky.

Like I said, this movie was incredibly confusing and I don't really have a clear explanation about what happened.  The Stalker is a guide (an apt name for a person who leads people) that takes clients to The Zone.  The Zone is an area that apparently grants wishes to whoever enters it.  The Stalker begins a journey to take two new people to the Zone, despite the fact that his wife pleads with him to stop.  Apparently, every Russian wife has to be miserable.

That almost sounds like an interesting concept, but I am afraid Tarkovsky does everything he can to drain every last drop of excitement from the film.  There are ridiculously long shots that are filmed by a stupidly far off distance.  Sometimes in these really dull films I can at least find the cinematography to be beautiful.  But these shots were just plain weird and didn't feel connected.

One of my writing professors use to say that you shouldn't introduce a loaded gun into a scene if you are not prepared to shoot it.  My professor would have bitched Tarkovsky out on this one as he did not really deliver on the promise of his premise.  I was also forced to sit through Vanilla Sky with a friend the other day, so it seems my suffering is truly endless.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

New camera shot every 88 seconds.  And there is no dialogue for the first ten minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

644. My Brilliant Career

My Brilliant Career
Directed by Gillian Armstrong

We are almost done with the 70s and have almost reached the cinematic treasure trove that is the 80s.  That may be a bit optimistic, but it is the mindset I am going with.

Sybylla is a free spirited girl who longs for something more than 19th century Australia can give her.  She is sent to live with her grandmother and is courted by two men.  Meanwhile when I visit my grandmother, I never meet anyone younger than 90 years old.  Anyway, one of the men is a childhood friend so we know who will probably win.

Australian cinema has really been disappointing and, unfortunately, the misery continues.  Sam Neill and Judy Davis may be talented actors, but together they had absolutely zero chemistry.  I do appreciate the idea that a woman in a movie can want something other than a man.  Still, I expected Davis' character to be a tad more likable.  I ended up finding the whole film rather dull.

If I could sum it up, I would say it was like A Room With a View, but slightly worse.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The producers, director, scriptwriters, costume designer, accountant, and bookkeeper were all women.

Judy Davis learned how to play the piano specifically for this film.

643. Real Life

Real Life
Directed by Albert Brooks

Apparently, this is a spoof of a 1973 documentary titled "An American Family."  Seriously?  Comedies already age pretty poorly; do we have to add this element too?  Well, this certainly wasn't as bad as it could have been, mostly due to Albert Brooks.

A documentary filmmaker chooses the Yeagers as a family as the center of his movie.  He plans to film their every waking moment.  Of course, hijinks ensue.

I am a big fan of mockumentaries.  I have really enjoyed The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family.  Unfortunately, all these shows tank in quality over time.  What is it about that medium that is unsustainable?  I guess they run out of ideas that are realistic, thus rendering the format rather useless.  What am I talking about again?  Oh right.  It was interesting to see one of the first examples of this medium.

I usually am pretty harsh with comedies, but I am going to give this one a break.  I really enjoyed Brooks.  This movie wasn't desperately begging for laughs like some of the previous comedies we have seen on The List.  You can enjoy it whether you laugh or not.  Worth a watch.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Based on the "original Real World."  But really who watches reality television? I do.  I do a lot.

642. The Marriage of Maria Braun

The Marriage of Maria Braun
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

I have absolutely gushed over Fassbinder's films but found myself crying bitter tears of boredom over Petra Von Kant.  This was somewhere in between.

During World War II, Maria Braun is married to her husband for less than a day before he has to return to the front.  After learning that he has been killed, Maria attempts to move on and forms a couple of new romantic relationships.

I don't know how much I can reveal of this film without being accused of spoilers.  I found the character of Maria to be incredibly strange.  In the first half of the film, she seems to be one person but completely transforms in the second half.  Not really in a character growth-y way but more in a "wait, that doesn't make any sense" way.  I have sort of a theory about the ending that might pull it all together but I don't want to ruin it for anyone.  Maybe I will put it in the comments...potential viewers, be warned.

The film drags on quite a bit, which was a shame, as I felt as though Fassbinder had previously shown great talent for pacing.  Overall, not a great finish for Fassbinder as far as The Book is concerned.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Fassbinder makes a cameo as a man selling Maria a dress.

641. Halloween

Directed by John Carpenter

How grossly out of context this is.  I am sure most movie blogs are doing sappy Christmas movies right now and we are talking about a gruesome slasher film.  Maybe this is like the anti Christmas blog?  I do hate Christmas movies (excepting Die Hard of course).  Or maybe I should stop trying to form a theme as it is obvious I am going chronologically.

Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital after murdering his sister.  He then stalks a group of teenagers and begins picking them off one by one.  It is up to super virgin Jamie Lee Curtis to end his murderous rampage.  But can you ever really stop evil?  For the purpose of the nine hundred sequels, no you cannot.

People often reference Hitchcock when they talk about this movie.  Or at least, the movie nerds I talk to do.  There are several homages in this film, from the characters' names to the casting of Janet Leigh's daughter.  Even if you didn't pick up on these references, Hitchcock is sure to come to mind when you watch this movie.  Carpenter does an excellent job of building suspense.  Unlike the previous slasher movies we have seen, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there is more of an emphasis on tension and less on gore.

Even if horror movies aren't really your thing, you have to hand it to this movie for inventing nearly every trope that has been copied thousands of times since.  Great villain, great score, great film.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The famous mask is actually a William Shatner mask spray painted white.

John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill claim that they didn't intend for the film to seem moralistic.  They claim that the teens that have sex die because there are so preoccupied with sex that they are unaware a killer is on the loose.

640. Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke
Directed by Lou Adler

Depending on how devoted you are to me, you might consider the week long break I just took between posts as a hiatus.  Honestly, I have no excuse; I just really didn't want to watch this movie.  I think the Listmakers and I just have completely different senses of humor.  I find most of the comedies in The Book to be quite cringy (although, to be fair, a lot of comedies don't age well).  Can we go back to screwball romantic comedies please and just skip all the Monty Pythons and Cheech and Chongs?

An idiotic stoner is hitchhiking and picked up by another idiotic stoner.  They share a really large joint. No, but guys, it is really big.  Like really big.  Hysterical yet?  Let's continue. They get into all sorts of shenanigans that are so stupid that I don't really want to get into it.  Suffice to say, it involves a van made of marijuana.

Maybe it's because I have hung around a lot of stoners, but I don't find the stoner persona to be that amusing.  In fact, I find it rather irritating.  I think marijuana is quite the delightful drug and very useful for pain issues, so don't think I am a total square.  But stoners are hardly going to be great comedians as they find everything funny anyway.

Glad to finally get this one over with.  We are nearing the end of seventies.  Hopefully this isn't an indication that we will have a rough landing.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The word "man" is used 295 times.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

639. Shaolin Master Killer

Shaolin Master Killer
Directed by Liu Chia-liang

I been saving this movie for when I really needed to escape for a couple hours as I always have an absolute blast with kung fu movies.  Incidentally, did anyone see the trailer for the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel coming out in 2016?  I got a little too excited.

San Te is on a quest of vengeance after the Manchu officials brutally murder his family and friends.  My version of the film was extremely hard to follow, as it was dubbed in English.  Whoever did the dubbing didn't seem to be too concerned if the audio actually matched the scene on screen at that moment.  Luckily these films aren't exactly dialogue driven.

Frequent readers of mine are probably bored hearing me gush about this genre, without truly considering each individual film's quality.  I will say that this is probably one of the worse kung fu selections from The Book I have seen.  I didn't find the fight scenes to be that convincing.  I often found myself thinking "how did he get so bloody?"  Still, some of the tasks that San Te has to complete are unbelievably cool and make me want to play a Shaolin video game.  I also have to add that the last fight scene was really cinematically beautiful.  Oh no, I have gone back to praising it again.

So another really fun watch that is entirely skippable if kung fu isn't your thing.  As a random side note, I minored in Asian History in college so I found the tension with the Manchurians especially interesting.  It was my perfect nerd package.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The US title for the film, Master Killer, does not entirely make sense as real Buddhist monks would never take lives.

Friday, November 27, 2015

638. Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead
Directed by George Romero

This movie was filmed at the mall that I always went to when I was growing up.  Funnily enough, most of the people that work there still look like zombies. Anyway, I guess technically you are reading the words of a famous person then.  Enjoy your brush with celebrity!

Basically, this is a very cliche zombie film with a very cliche zombie plot.  Four people try to survive a zombie apocalypse at Monroeville Mall.  If they hadn't gotten rid of the candy store, I wouldn't think their fates were so bad.

I suppose I can't actually call this cliche, since it is simply an original movie that has been copied an infinite amount of times.  I personally have never been a big fan of the zombie genre, since I think the kill scenes are always kind of boring.  Still, as someone who has frequently explored the worst the horror genre has to offer, this is actually quite good, if a little overacted.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Gaylen Ross refused to scream, saying that she would lose her strength as a strong female character if she did.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

637. Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven
Directed by Terrence Malick

After such an insane high, we are back to a rather mediocre film.  I think we all liked Badlands, but I don't remember clamoring for a sequel.

In 1916, Bill, played by Richard Gere, kills his boss and decides to flee with his girlfriend Abby.  Well, no one ever praised Malick for his versatility.  Anyway, Bill and Abby pretend to be siblings for some vague reason.  Once a dying farmer falls in love with Abby, Bill encourages her to whore herself out to get the farmer's money.  The movie is narrated by Bill's actual sister.  I am surprised they didn't pretend to be a couple to make the whole thing even more confusing.

This is such a beautiful film, that it is hard to remember that there is not much there.  The plot barely makes any sense and all of the performances are incredibly wooden.  Just watch Badlands instead.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Christian Bale's favorite movie.  Not quite as pretentious as Pacino, but still.

636. Grease

Directed by Randal Kleiser

It's here.  The moment we have all been waiting for.  The greatest film of all time!  I think that statement, coupled with the fact that I just gave a rather low review to The Deer Hunter, might cause a mutiny among my readers.  I don't care!  I am going down with this ship.

Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko meet during summer vacation.  They both think that Sandy has to go back to Australia for the fall, but her family ends up enrolling her in Danny's high school.  She pretends she didn't know about it, but I recognize stalking when I see it.  Anyway, the fast paced politics of high school life threaten to break them up.

This movie is absolutely flawless.  I have been watching this film since as long as I can remember (although my mom would fast forward the bit where Rizzo and Kenickie get it on).  I can pretty much recite the script to this movie, much to the horror of those around me.

Every song is beautiful and this is simply the most fun cinematic experience you can have.  My only complaint is that Patty Simcox never had a spin off.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Rizzo's hickeys were real.  Jeff Conaway insisted on applying them himself.  That sounds like barely disguised sexual harassment.

Jeff Conaway became addicted to drugs while filming this movie.

My favorite song from the movie:

635. The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter
Directed by Michael Cimino

This is one of the those movies that you are supposed to deem a flawless masterpiece.  I suppose in many ways it is, but it certainly doesn't rank as one of my favorite movies.

A group of Pennsylvania miners go to fight in Vietnam.  I have seen quite a few Vietnam War movies by now, so it is a bit of a spoiler knowing that there is always such a happy ending.  Also, apparently, Russian roulette was a crucial part of the War.  I'm not sure about this...

So, like I said, it is hard to find a flaw in this film.  I am not a big fan of war movies, so the best of the genre will only get a "meh" from me.  Everybody was acting so hard I am surprised no one burst a blood vessel.  Actually, they probably did.  I can't exactly say that this was accessible to people without penises.  Still, you can't not see it, vagina or not.

I know this is kind of a shitty review, but I always feel like the "masterpieces" are less fun to talk about.  Besides, Grease is coming up!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Apparently, 28 people died from playing Russian roulette after being influenced from this film.

#53 in AFI's top 100.

634. L'Albero degli zoccoli

L'Albero degli zoccoli
Tree of Wooden Clogs
Directed by Ermanno Olmi

I am sorry I have not posted for awhile.  I have been cheating on all of you with Andrew's blog.  I am promise, I am thinking of you guys the entire time.  Actually, to be honest, I have been putting off watching this.  I am glad I finally got it over with, but it was as brutal as I imagined.

There is no plot to this movie.  That's not just me being petulant; apparently, this was an artistic choice. The film follows the lives of several peasant families in Italy during the late 1800s.  As you can imagine, being a peasant is a pretty dull affair.  I don't think I needed a three hour movie to tell me that. To make things even more unpleasant, there are several graphic scenes where animals are killed in appalling inhumane ways.  I am a vegetarian, but I think those moments would upsetting to anyone.  And these weren't staged killings; apparently the director was channelling Bunuel and had these animals butchered for real.

At one point, I thought there would be pretty juicy sexual tension.  Unfortunately, just like in my personal life, the romance was mostly in my head.  I should have known there would be no time for sexiness, as the women were incapable of doing anything but praying.

Dull, dull, dull.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

One of Al Pacino's favorite films.  Ugh.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

633. Five Deadly Venoms

Five Deadly Venoms
Directed by Chang Cheh

Another kung fu movie that makes my shriveled heart leap with joy.  This is one of my guilty pleasures that I can't really defend against criticism.  Still, it is really fun for me and you give it a chance and mix this film with the right snackage, it could be fun for you too!

The master of the Poison Clan is dying and fears that his colleague is in danger because of his large fortune.  He enlists his pupil Yang to warn his colleague and discover the whereabouts of his former, potentially corrupted students (Centipede, Snake, Toad, Lizard, and Scorpion).   Each man has a distinct fighting style and weakness.  How fun is that?  It's pretty much a video game already.

I will say I found this film to be a bit more confusing than other marital arts movies.  Now that I have written that, it seems embarrassing because really, what is more simple than a kung fu movie plot?  I still had a great time with this one.  The fighting scenes were absolutely fascinating.

More, more, more!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The snake role was originally going to be played by a woman!  Ugh.  That would have been so cool.

632. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Directed by Fred Schepisi

I am slightly overwhelmed by how much writing I have to do.  I figure this is the easiest piece to tackle since I can put in the least amount of effort.  I really spoil you guys.

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith tells the rather gruesome tale of an exploited Aborigine who sort of loses his marbles because of the evil white people.  He's certainly not a sympathetic character, which is why I found the tagline ("The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is the chant of the underdog") so confusing.  It makes it sound like some of Rocky-esque inspirational story.  If this story inspires you, I would like you to check yourself in somewhere as soon as possible.

Obviously, this movie is preaching against racism but I think the film simplifies the issue so much that it really doesn't have that much of an impact.  Australian cinema continues to disappoint...

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Based on a true story.

631. Suspiria

Directed by Dario Argento

This is the first movie that I ever watched with an ex boyfriend and, although this is quite embarrassing to admit, he has completely ruined it for me.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  Maybe that only happens to me.  I stopped watching any movies I love with men.  Anyway, I will try to keep my bitterness to a minimum.  But I make no promises!

Suzy Bannion is an American ballet dancer who has recently enrolled in a dance academy in Freiburg.  I don't want to give anything else away, but some rather gruesome things have been happening.  Why are ballet dancers so unsettling?

The tagline for this film is "The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Are The First 92!"  I would hardly call this movie terrifying.  I suppose the deaths are rather graphic but I am not sure Argento's fake blood formula is entirely convincing.  Still, it's Dario Argento and his movies are always visually pleasing.  Some of the shots in this film are quite beautiful, though admittedly grotesque.

There, I think I treated that movie justly.  How's that for moving on?  Wow, this post is rather pathetic.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Argento's original idea was to have the academy for young girls up to age 12.  Of course, since no one wants to see children being murdered, he raised the age limit to 20.  Still, he didn't change the script so some of the characters have rather childlike dialogue.

630. Soldaat van Oranje

Soldaat van Oranje
Soldier of Orange
Directed by Paul Verhoeven

I have a quick announcement before I get to my review!  Andrew, from From the Moon to the Grail, has asked me to be a weekly contributor to his blog.  If you click here, you can read his post which includes a segment from yours truly.  He even made me a logo, so he is quite a classy guy.  If you read my post there, you can hear me promote this blog!  It's like a vicious cycle of self absorption.  Join the fun!

I have been watching this movie in short increments for the last week or so.  I kept falling asleep, despite the fact that I found this to be quite an interesting film.  The story follows a group of Dutch students as they navigate their way through World War II.  I suppose our main guy is Erik, who fights alongside the Allied forces.

I was surprised by how exciting this movie was, which I suppose is my own prejudice.  I didn't exactly imagine Dutch war film from the 70s could be that interesting.  This is one of the few instances I can stomach being wrong.  Still, there is something about Paul Verhoeven that repulses me a bit.  There are always quite a few gross out moments in his films that seem unnecessarily disgusting.

Still, a definite improvement from Turkish Delight.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Based on a true story.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

629. The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes
Directed by Wes Craven

All right, we all know how I am going to react to this.  There is another pretty upsetting rape scene that we have to sit through.  Would the movie really be that different if that was taken out?  I don't understand why it was necessary.  I guess I should just be grateful we didn't have to deal with Last House on the Left.

The Carter family is on a road trip, but their car crashes.  Of course, the hills that the Carters are traveling in are infested by cannibalistic rapists.  It's Craven subtlety that makes his early horror films so special.

There is nothing clever in this film.  It's simply shocking, disturbing act after shocking, disturbing act.  Unlike a movie like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I don't feel like there is any real need to see this if you are interested in the evolution of the horror genre.  Completely skippable.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Craven considered this to be an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Craven originally wanted the baby to die, but the cast and crew threatened to walk if that happened.  Because, you know, that's going too far.

628. Der amerikanische Freund

Der amerikanische Freund
The American Friend
Directed by Wim Wenders

German cinema continues to impress with another fantastic film.  Is there anything Germans can't do right??  Oh wait.

Dennis Hopper plays Tom Ripley, a rich American who is involved in an art forgery scheme.  Ripley is approached by a French gangster (they have those?) who wants him to murder a rival.  Ripley suggests that Jonathan Zimmerman is better suited for the job.  Zimmerman is an everyman who is dying of a blood disease.  Will bromance bloom?  Watch to find out!  Or just spoil it for yourself on Wikipedia.

Excuse the cliche, but this film was really a feast for the eyes.  I was in complete awe of the shots in this film. Although clearly they didn't creatively inspire me too much, as all I can come with to describe them is tired phrases.  Truly a visual masterpiece...okay, I'm done.

So a very beautiful, exciting movie.  I have a slight problem with Dennis Hopper (is he ever not a sleaze?) but other than that, highly recommended.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The actors had to use real guns in the assassination scene because the filmmakers couldn't afford fake ones.

Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper got in a fist fight on set.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

627. Ceddo

Directed by Ousmane Sembene

This is one of those experiences that you know you won't enjoy at the time, but you are glad you did later.  Like cleaning out your closet or going to the dentist.

The film takes place in Senegal.  The commoners (the ceddo) try to preserve their culture but, as we all know, white Europeans are determined to destroy it.  The ceddo kidnap the daughter of a local king who is siding with the Muslims.

I don't think this earned its entry to the book by its compelling plot or stellar acting.  More likely it was because most Western movie watchers can't even point to Senegal on a map, let alone identify a Senegalese film.  Of course, the subject matter is important as well. It seems strange that we have to constantly be reminded that it is not okay to wipe out entire cultures.  And yet we keep doing it!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Banned by the government for years because of its portrayal of Islam.  The official reason given by the government for its ban was that "Ceddo" was spelled in the European way, instead of the Senengalese way.  They are sticklers.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

626. Eraserhead

Directed by David Lynch

Oh man.  David Lynch's reign of terror has begun.  At least I am delivering one horror film for Halloween.  My sister and I are attending an all night horror movie marathon tonight!  It should be truly awful, as I think at least one Halloween sequel is on the menu.  Fun, fun, fun!

Ugh.  Let's get this out of the way.  Frequent readers of mine could probably predict I would hate this.  Henry Spencer has a baby with his girlfriend, but there is something wrong with the child (think Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire).  I read that David Lynch's daughter has clubfoot, so she believes that the inspiration behind the mutated baby was Lynch's regret about having her.  If that's true...well, I can't even think about that.

So I guess the filmmakers wanted us to feel disturbed and make us wish we hadn't seen some of the images?  Good job, I suppose?

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

Stanley Kubrick made the cast of The Shining watch this movie to get the feel of the horror genre.  You hear a lot of stories about how Kubrick is abusive but that has got to the worst.

John Waters' favorite film.  Surprise!

625. Killer of Sheep

Killer of Sheep
Directed by Charles Burnett

Another film that doesn't exactly fall under the "Halloween" heading.  Hang on, because I am going to review Eraserhead next!  I can't believe I just wrote that like it is a positive thing.

Uh right.  A plot summary.  Well, there really is no plot in this film.  I guess the kindest way to describe it is as a series of vignettes about Stan, a poor slaughterhouse worker who lives in Los Angeles. It kind of reminds me of the film Gummo, directed by Harmony Korine, although a lot less horrifying.

This is the kind of movie that makes film critics drool.  This film was never released theatrically but was restored in 2007.  There is absolutely no plot or character development. I am sure whoever did this entry in The Book was quite pleased with themselves.  However, it is not the kind of film I can get into.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

No permits were obtained for this film so it couldn't be shown in theaters.  Thirty years later, the film was restored and the proper rights were secured.  Hurray...

624. Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever
Directed by John Badham

Happy Halloween, everyone!  It is strange being in London for Halloween, since it is not as big of a deal here as it is in the United States.  I get the sense that people here are just humoring children by celebrating it and think I'm weird for demanding candy from them.  Go figure.  Anyway, let's get to our thoroughly unthematic film of the day.

Tony Manero is an Italian American man living in Brooklyn.  He works at a hardware store and his only source of pleasure in life is dancing at the local disco club.  He meets Stephanie, who agrees to be his dance partner, but wants their relationship to stay professional.  Bitch.

Okay, I take it back.  This is a good movie to watch on Halloween, as parts of this film are truly horrifying (and I don't just mean the Bee Gees soundtrack).   The treatment of women in this film is truly disgusting.  I don't know how I am supposed to enjoy watching Tony dance when he and his friends all are actual or aspiring rapists.

Of course, I understand how iconic this film is.  I certainly understand its place on the List.  But it wasn't a fun watch and I wish I could unsee a few of the scenes.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

First Hollywood movie to use the term "blow job."  It's fun learning about history.

Gene Siskel's favorite movie.

Friday, October 30, 2015

623. Man of Marble

Man of Marble
Directed by Andrzej Wajda

Well that was a bit of a chore.  I am having a lot of trouble finding these movies lately.  I tried and failed to find Bigger Than Life for my sister today.  I feel so impotent. I was able to find the first half of this movie (without subtitles of course) but had to go to a shady Polish site to get the rest.  Once again, I had to download a separate file of subtitles and scroll along as I go.  The struggle continues.

Agnieszka is a young director who is making her thesis film on Mateusz Birkut.  Birkut was a bricklayer who was hailed as a hero by the Party for his record breaking brick quotas.  How could a film about a bricklayer not be interesting?  That's gold right there.  Anyway, Birkut has fallen from grace and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Of course, I have to bitch about the running time.  It's tradition, after all.  Two hours and forty minutes. It was quite frankly exhausting, mostly because it was difficult keeping up with the subtitles.  That being said, I am glad I watched this.  I suppose Mateusz was the real main character of the film, but even so, I loved the focus on Agnieszka.  When was the last time we had a positive female character in one of our movies?  Annie Hall...maybe.  Princess Leia?  Regardless, it's not very common.  But here we had a woman in charge of something and she wasn't a sociopath!  Yay!

From a historical point of view, this was definitely an interesting piece.  How they got this past the sensors, I have no idea.  Definitely not a favorite, but still worth seeing.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Because of the anti-communist material, the film was in development hell since 1962.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

622. Stroszek

Directed by Werner Herzog

Continuing my rant from the last post, what does the title Last Chants for a Slow Dance even mean?  It just sounds like Chance!  Chants doesn't make any sense!  Sorry, I am still bitter.  Let's transition to my rant for this film.  I am a real treat, aren't I?

Bruno Stoszek is released from prison.  He was incarcerated for some charge related to alcohol, but we are never told what it is (my first grievance).  He immediately goes to a bar, because addicts are lovely, and comforts an unhappy prostitute.  The pair decide to leave Germany and come to America.  Blah, blah, blah the American dream is actually a nightmare blah blah blah.

Sorry, I am cranky today.  My subtitles for this film were absolutely horrible.  The words on the screen were about five minutes ahead of what was actually happening.  This was confusing, to say the least.  Even without this obstacle, I think I would have disliked this movie.  The characters were extremely self destructive, which is always frustrating to watch.  There were also so many irritating scenes in this film that just set my teeth on edge.  The earsplitting accordion music, the voice of the auctioneer, the chicken dancing...I just wanted to punch a whole in my computer.

Werner Herzog continues his slow torture.  Oh, the pain.  Will Man of Marble stop this?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Apparently, Ian Curtis watched this film before committing suicide.  Is it insensitive to say I understand this?

Admired by David Lynch.  Wow, these facts are really reinforcing my opinion.

Friday, October 23, 2015

621. Last Chants for a Slow Dance

Last Chants for a Slow Dance
Directed by Jon Jost

Prepare for a rant, everyone.  This movie was almost impossible to find.  It didn't seem to exist on any reputable site.  I searched for this film on so many dodgy sites that the UK List of Court Orders (ACCESS TO THE WEBSITES LISTED ON THIS PAGE HAS BEEN BLOCKED PURSUANT TO ORDERS OF THE HIGH COURT!) became a frequently visited page on my browser.  I was finally able to find a download, but the file format wouldn't work on my computer.  Using my savvy computer skills, I was able to convert the file.  Am I a hero?  I am not sure I am completely comfortable with that label, but obviously, I can't stop anyone from saying it.

Of course, none of this was worth it, since this film was an absolute trainwreck.  Basically, we are treated to an hour and a half of the character Tom being a terrible person.  He cheats on his wife, says crude, misogynistic things to strangers, and, in a particularly charming scene, blames his wife for getting pregnant.  The "action" is broken up by painfully long scenery shots that were obviously just there to prolong this movie's miserable life.

We are forced to watch a lot of movies that focus on one character (usually a man) being terrible.  Then we always have to ask ourselves the following questions. Is the disgust we feel for this person intended by the filmmakers?  Are we adding dimensions to a character that we would usually write off as a villain?  Is it important to see this?  Would jumping off this ledge be worth it so I can stop watching this movie?  Sorry, that last one might just be me.

Frankly, I am sick of having rapists be the heroes of our stories.  I am pretty sure this guy might be a rapist as there is a very questionable piece of dialogue when someone asks if the girls Tom chases are willing and Tom replies, "As willing as they can be."  What does that mean??  Maybe I don't want to know.

Let's not let a pretentious critic stop this film from fading into obscurity!  Avoid at all costs.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Shot on a $2000 budget.  This seems to impress a lot of people, but I probably could have guessed that.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

620. Annie Hall

Annie Hall
Directed by Woody Allen

This movie is another obsession of mine.  It is one that I could watch over and over again.  I wrote a paper on it in college (which got an A, although my professor still rejected me when I asked him out; but that's another sad tale).  Most recently, I forced a friend of mine to watch it in Florida.  He said that I was Annie Hall, which is why I enjoy it so much.  Perhaps...

The film explores the relationship between Annie, a neurotic singer, and Alvy Singer, an equally neurotic comedian.  It's incredibly sweet, hilarious, and heartbreaking.  As someone who has an extremely difficult time getting over break ups (as in, I don't get over them), I can testify that the hardest part is replaying your own lobster scenes.  When you were both perfectly happy with each other.  That is something that this movie captures beautifully, particularly because Woody Allen and Diane Keaton dated in real life.

So definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.  Romantic comedies don't get any better than this.  Seriously.  Have you seen Moonstruck?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Diane Keaton's real name Diane Hall and people frequently call her Annie.

619. The Last Wave

The Last Wave
Directed by Peter Weir

I managed to squeeze another movie in today.  My sister was watching a film for this List, as she has also undertaken this journey, and I got intimidated!  I ended up being slightly resentful that she got to watch The Incredible Shrinking Man and I was stuck with this.

I found this film to be somewhat confusing and once again, we don't get any satisfying explanation about what the hell is happening.  It's quite an annoying trend.  Basically, four Aborigines are accused of murder.  David Burton is procured for their defense and I guess the men's tribal ways break his brain.

So I like I said, this was a bit of a chore to sit through.  I have been very disappointed in the Australian films on the List.  They have all been rather dull and they always seem to end in a really confusing way.  I suppose it was interesting seeing Aboriginal culture, but I am not sure how accurate or flattering their portrayal in this film was.

Are we done with Peter Weir yet?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The city of Adelaide was used instead of Sydney for the majority of the scenes.

618. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Directed by Steven Spielberg

I have been on such a high from the last few movies that this came as a bitter disappointment.  We have just seen some pretty great science fiction films and then this one comes along?  Not to mention the fact that this is Spielberg's follow up to Jaws.  Sigh.

Several people, including the wonderful Richard Dreyfuss, begin to experience strange phenomenon.  The obsession gradually takes them over, culminating in a rather ridiculous scene involving mashed potatoes.

Sorry for the shitty summary, but really I did not care for this movie one bit.  I have never been a huge fan of aliens.  There are exceptions, of course, but in general I find the whole concept to be boring.  There is never a satisfying ending; it usually just ends with some ambiguous abduction.  God, this film was dull.  I feel like nothing actually happens in this film, which is astounding to me, because Jaws was so exciting.

So disappointing but I am still eager to see Spielberg again.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Meryl Streep auditioned for the role of Veronica.

Steven Spielberg was displeased with this film, feeling like there wasn't enough "wowness."

617. Star Wars

Star Wars
Directed by George Lucas

All right, ladies and gentlemen.  It's happening!  Star Wars is here.  Star Wars is here!!

Would I consider myself a warsie?  The term makes me think of some frightening, overweight creature with a collection of Jabba the Hut pez dispensers (sorry, warsies).  I have seen the series several times, own the prequels (I know, gasp) and several posters, and have had in depth arguments with my ex boyfriend about the nature of the new lightsaber hilt.  So I guess, yes, I have to start liking pez.

Wow, suddenly the plot seems complicated to explain.  Or, at least, complicated to explain without giving away spoilers.  Of course, if you are going to get mad at me for spoiling Star Wars, just know that I am flipping you off all the way from London.

I know some people simply don't "get" it.  I am not old enough to have nostalgia be the motivator behind my obsession.  I just think it is fun.  The dialogue is fun (how can it not be when someone is called a nerf herder?), the characters are entertaining, and the action never stops.  Special effects never exactly age well, but I think that is part of the enjoyment!  Just have a good time with this one.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Brian De Palma reportedly called this "the worst movie ever."  Oh, what do you know?

First science fiction film to be nominated for Best Picture.

Carrie Fisher was only given the role when she agreed to lose 10 pounds.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

616. The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth
Directed by Nicolas Roeg

Once again, we have a rock star playing the lead in one of our movies.  David Bowie actually managed to be decent in this film, but remember: we are getting closer and closer to Cher in Moonstruck.  Everybody beware!

Bowie is an alien.  I found this premise completely believable and thought this film might actually turn out to be a documentary.  Anyway, there is a drought on his planet and he plans on transporting some water from Earth back home.  He is able to make money by patenting his planet's technology.  He meets an incredibly obnoxious hotel maid or, as I call her, Naggy McNaggyson.  He also befriends a former professor who seems to prey on young girls (Creepy McCreepyson).

I have heard the film's plot described as being about "the corruption of an innocent being."  I don't necessarily think that's true.  Our "hero" seems pretty ready to cheat on his wife from the beginning and, based on the ending, it doesn't seem like his "people" are all that better than us earthlings.

I didn't expect to like this movie that much.  I didn't love it, but maybe I got a bit more out of it than I thought I would.  It is definitely way too long and some of the characters are insanely annoying.  Still, it had a decent plot and there are worse ways to spend two hours.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Roeg initially wanted to cast Michael Crichton as the lead.  What is the logic behind these casting decisions??

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

615. 1900

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Oh dear lord.  Another four hour movie.  I wish I was that guy who controls the music at the Oscars and starts playing it when people's speeches go on for too long.  At about the ninety minute mark of these films, I could just put the music on and the director would have to wrap up whatever he was saying in ten seconds.  It would be glorious.

It is a bit difficult to sum up a four hour long movie, especially when you stop paying attention at the two hour mark.  Alfredo and Olmo are friends, despite Alfredo being raised as a populist and Olmo being raised as a socialist.  Lots of shit goes down and Donald Sutherland appears as a complete psychopath.

I am always annoyed at long films, but the length of this movie particularly pissed me off.  I could have actually enjoyed this film, but I couldn't stay connected to a film for this long.  Perhaps I should have broken it up, but really, that's not the point of a movie!  Maybe it doesn't matter; every character was so unlikable that I might have been unable to enjoy this regardless, even if it was a respectable length.  I do love me some Robert De Niro, though.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The film used more than 12,000 extras.

The uncut version is over five hours long.

614. In the Realm of the Senses

In the Realm of the Senses
Directed by Nagisa Oshima

The Book claimed this was an "art" film, but let's call it what it is: porn.  Maybe it has more to say than other pornos, but that doesn't stop it from belonging in that genre.  I guess it still counts as a film, though, so we will roll with it.

Sada Abe is maid in a hotel.  The hotel owner molests her and the two begin an affair, despite the fact that he is married (aw, romance).  I suppose she begins to unravel but honestly, he's the one behaving like a monster.  When you have been single for awhile like me, these Alex Forrest characters start to seem quite reasonable.  But that's a discussion for another time.

I don't want anyone to feel like a pervert for saying they like this movie.  I wasn't offended by what I saw but to me, the sex scenes weren't particularly interesting.  Watching this man consistently be a dick wasn't exactly compelling viewing for me.  I get enough of that in real life.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Based on a true story.  Hold onto your penises, if you weren't already.

613. The Ascent

The Ascent
Directed by Larisa Shepitko

A black and white Soviet film!  This should be cheerful.  I just googled the phrase "Soviet Union comedies."  Man, that was a short list.

I feel like I can't say too much about this plot without giving key points away.  Let's just say two Soviet soldiers attempt to evade capture from the Germans in World War II.

In a lot of ways, I felt like this film should have been really interesting to me.  Americans always love to act like we were the real heroes of World War II and that we saved the day.  But the statistics of the casualties during this War are mind-blowing; the USSR lost 20 million people, while the US lost half a million.  Not to discount any of the Allies' contributions, but you would think you would hear more stories about World War II involving Russians.  Still, I can't say I found this film particularly interesting.  In fact, I was quite bored; only about three things happen in this film.  Can we move a little faster please?

I have heard this film praised for its cinematography, but having grown up in Pennsylvania, I have seen more than my share of dirty snowscapes.  Definitely a dull experience.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Last film of the Shepitko's before her death.  She died in a car accident in 1979.

612. Network

Directed by Sidney Lumet

This used to be my older brother's favorite film (I don't know if it still is; he has the tendency to make broad proclamations sometimes and then pretend he never meant them).  As the dutiful doting younger sister, I watched it too.  I actually found it to be quite dull, although I am sure I pretended otherwise.

Howard Beale is the anchor of the UBS Evening News.  He learns that he will be fired in two weeks so declares on air that he will shoot himself on camera before his deadline.  His um, colorful antics actually cause a ratings spike, one that Diana Christensen, played by Faye Dunaway, tries to capitalize on.

Like I said, I found this movie to be exceedingly dull.  All the actors were "acting" so hard that it was pretty exhausting to watch.  I also didn't really understand what the point was.  Yes, it sucks that Howard will soon be out of a job.  But times change, people change, and that is just the way it is.  I don't think the company is "evil" for trying to get ratings (at least, initially).  It was also annoying, but not unexpected, that the successful career woman of course had to be a cold bitch.

A chore to get through and easily skippable.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Jimmy Stewart turned down the main role because of the strong language.  Aw, Jimmy.  You are my favorite square.

611. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver
Directed by Martin Scorsese

After yet another mass shooting in the United States, I am reluctant to praise a film that seems to glorify this kind of violence.  I am not one to point fingers at the media when it comes to tragedies like this (it has more to do with America's gun rights) but I think a lot of the monsters that commit crimes like this want to be seen as Travis Bickle's.  Maybe that's a stretch, but it's how I feel right now in the wake of the Oregon shooting.

Let's still go through the motions with this one.  Travis Bickle is a lonely veteran in New York City who drives cabs at night.  With this job, he is exposed to all kinds of horror, including seeing child sex workers.  He also tries to woo a campaign volunteer, but freaks her out a bit with his strange personality.  I am pretty sure I have dated him at some point.

Robert De Niro is, of course, absolutely amazing in this film.  Mostly, people want to discuss the ending of the film.  Even if I didn't have a no spoiler rule, that would be the part that I want to skip right now.  I will just go ahead and say that this is extremely well done movie and be done with it.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Robert De Niro would work for fifteen hours a day as a cab driver for a month in preparation of this role.

John Hinckley's attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan was supposedly triggered by this film.

De Niro improvised his character talking to the mirror.

610. Rocky

Directed by John G. Avildsen

There have been so many iconic movies lately to review!  Mostly, I have given them the praise that everyone else but I am not going to be able to get behind this movie.  Although I do have to admit, when I visited Philadelphia, I did the pose on top of the steps.  There, got that off my chest.

Rocky Balboa is an enforcer for a loan shark by day and a prize fighter by night.  The World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed, selects Rocky as his opponent when his original challenger backs up.  I know from experience that it is always great being a second choice.

I don't like sports movies and wasn't particularly impressed by any of the actors here.  Still, watching this film wasn't the worst experience.  The training scenes fill me with a kind of film related nostalgia that made seeing this movie semi worth it.

Even so, the fact that this movie won Best Picture over All The President's Men makes me twitch a bit.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Sylvester Stallone had only $106 in the bank when his screenplay was sold.

Stallone flattened his knuckles by hitting the meat so hard for so long.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

609. All The President's Men

All The President's Men
Directed by Alan J. Pakula

I have had to watch this film several times for my journalism class, where it is devoutly worshipped.  Rightfully so, since this is a masterpiece of a film.

The film covers the first seven months of the Watergate Scandal, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford playing Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, respectively.  There are more details here, of course, and this film can be just about as confusing as The Big Sleep.

So, like I said, this movie is a masterpiece, which, to my knowledge, has very few minor inaccuracies.  Maybe I am biased, but I loved watching the reporters' processes.  It wasn't car chases and death threats; it was simply following up every lead, usually from your desk. I can't honestly say that it is a fun movie to watch over and over, but it certainly is a must see, just for the performances alone.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Frank Willis, the security guard who discovers the break in, plays himself.

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman memorized each other's lines so that they could interrupt each other in character.

608. The Outlaw Josey Wales

The Outlaw Josey Wales
Directed by Clint Eastwood

This movie was so unremarkable that I really don't think I would be able to pull it out of a line up.  It makes me wonder how it managed to earn a 1001 spot.

Josey Wales' family is murdered by Union soldiers.  He is driven to revenge and joins the Confederate Army.  Then he is further driven to revenge when his officer betrays their regiment.  Let's take it easy on the motivation, shall we?  Anyway, I am pretty sure that even someone who hadn't seen this movie could map out the rest of the plot.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie.  I suppose it wasn't awful and I definitely liked it better than High Plains Drifter (guys, the hero doesn't rape anyone!  It's a miracle). Maybe I have seen too many Westerns at this point, but this was completely forgettable for me.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Eastwood's favorite film that he made.  Um, why?

Received praise from Native American viewers for the film's non stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans.  Well, that's something.

Friday, October 2, 2015

607. Carrie

Directed by Brian De Palma

Happy October everybody!  I am just going to go ahead and take credit for the fact that I am reviewing a horror movie right now, even though I go through the List chronologically and this is a complete coincidence.

Carrie tells the story of an awkward teenager who has an abusive, religious mother.  It makes me feel better about my own experience in high school.  I mean, I couldn't have been that weird...right?  Anyway, Carrie gets her period at school (which is a nightmare in itself) but doesn't know what it is so starts screaming.  Naturally, she is laughed at, because it is high school and everyone is terrible.  One of the girls feels guilty for her part in it and arranges to have her boyfriend take Carrie to prom.  A pity date.  Those always end well.  Oh yes, Carrie also has telekinetic powers.

This is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time and everyone is at least a little familiar with it.  I actually watched the remake, which is horrifying for its own reasons.  I am sorry, but if you were as hot as Chloe Grace Moretz, you wouldn't be unpopular in high school.

Yes, the acting can be somewhat cheesy but I thought Piper Laurie, at least, was terrifying.  Definitely a must see, just so you don't have annoying people (me) say "You've NEVER seen Carrie???"

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Stephen King loved this film.  An author likes a movie that was based on their book?  That's refreshing.

In real life, Sissy Spacek was homecoming queen.

606. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Directed by John Cassavetes

Wait, is this a John Cassavetes film that I actually like.  It can't be...

Cosmo Vitelli owes money to the mafia (with a name like that, it's kind of expected).  He agrees to perform a hit on a rival, but the target might be bigger than he anticipated.  It's a very simple story, but it still took Cassavetes over two hours to tell it in his original cut, according to some online digging I did.  Apparently, once it was received poorly, Cassavettes reedited it to be 108 minutes.  I don't have a lot of respect for a director who needs hours and hours of our time to tell a basic story.

I suppose I did end up liking this, mostly because it felt like a Martin Scorsese movie pretending to be directed by someone else. I did find the ending to be rather cliche at this point.  I might need to amend my spoiler rule so I don't always have to end with vague statements like that.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

One of the few John Cassavetes movies that do not feature his wife Gena Rowlands.

605. Jaws

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Finally welcoming Steven Spielberg to the blog!  I know it must have been hard for the Listmakers to admit that they like a director that the average person might have heard of.   Don't worry guys; we will get through this together.

Is there really any need for a plot synopsis here?  A girl goes skinny dipping one night with somewhat disastrous results (for some reason I can never watch this scene; I find it too upsetting).  The police chief wants to close the beaches when it becomes clear it was a shark attack, but the mayor is too concerned about the town's revenue during tourist season to do the right thing.  Another attack happens (something I couldn't watch as well; I am growing soft in my old age), and it is up to the police chief (who is afraid of water), a shark expert, and a crotchety fisherman to fin-ally kill this monster.  Sorry, couldn't resist.

Is it possible to dislike this film?  I think the scar discussion is one of the most brilliant scenes in cinema.  All the characters are fascinating and the action never slows down.  I recently rewatched this with my family and I had forgotten how silly the townspeople were.

Pure entertainment and spectacularly done.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

The mechanical shark that the filmmakers intended to use broke down, prompting Spielberg to use the camera as "the shark."

Roy Schneider ad-libbed the line "you're gonna need a bigger boat."

Highest grossing movie until Star Wars.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

604. O Thiassos

O Thiassos
The Travelling Players
Directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos

It took me about two hours to find this movie.  I have no idea how I finally stumbled across it (I think I sold my soul at some point).  Then it was another FOUR hours of one of the dullest films I have ever seen.  At this point, that is saying a lot.

What even happened in this film?  A group of Greek actors would start dancing and performing.  Then, a group of soldiers would hold them at gunpoint.  Somewhat would get shot and the cycle would continue, punctuated frequently by folk songs.  That, at least, was my understanding.  Of course, there was a lot more to it than that.  I told myself it would be better to watch this in one sitting, as that is how the director intended the film to be viewed.  I think this was a misstep, because at about hour two I couldn't have care less what was happening on the screen.  Actually, to be honest, by minute two I couldn't care less what was happening on screen, but I at least tried to understand until the second hour.

There were so many times that the characters broke into songs.  Maybe if I was Greek I would have felt a bit more of a connection to the music.  Personally, I felt like the interruptions were incredibly obnoxious and made it even harder to follow the plot.  Definitely not worth my time.  Do the Listmakers hate me or something?

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Done in 80 shots.  Pause for applause.

Monday, September 28, 2015

603. Cria Cuervos

Cria Cuervos
Raise Ravens
Directed by Carlos Saura

Once again, we have an absolutely brilliant film that is bound to crush even the most buoyant mood.  Here we go!

Ana is an eight year old girl who overhears her father in a somewhat compromising situation with the wife of a Fascist officer.  Her father has a heart attack and the woman flees.  Ana is convinced that she murdered her father by poison.  She carries this with her as she and her sisters are raised by their cold aunt.

This movie is a tad bit on the confusing side, since there are many flashbacks and it is sometimes unclear if characters are real or part of Ana's imagination.  However, I didn't find this off-putting.  I felt like it added to the atmosphere of the movie and really made me empathize with Ana.  I felt like this what the filmmakers that made Spirit of the Beehive were going for, but weren't able to pull off as well.

Definitely worth at least one watch.  Sorry for the short review, but there is frozen pizza to be had.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The title is derived from the Spanish proverb "Raise ravens and they'll pluck out your eyes."

602. Nashville

Directed by Robert Altman

Just the thought of writing this post makes me tired since there are so many different plot lines in this movie.  I'll take the lazy way out and only give the briefest statements.  It is Monday, after all.

Basically, the film follows the lives of several aspiring and actual country music stars in a five day period.  My favorite storyline involved the love triangle between Bill, Mary, and Tom.  Still, I prefer the television series "Nashville" that is currently in its fourth season.  With the movie, we miss out on Clare Bowen's beautiful singing voice and, of course, Connie Britton's hair.

I didn't particularly enjoy this film.  It's strange that there are 24 main characters, yet not one that I actually like.  It's also nearly three hours and there were definitely parts that seemed to drag, particularly in day one.  Still, I have to admit that this film is an impressive feat.  Unfortunately, just not a very entertaining one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Every actor was required to write and perform their own songs.  The film was also heavily improvised.

Songs were recorded live.

601. Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom

Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini

First I had to read 120 Days of Sodom for the 1001 Book List, then I had to revisit it AGAIN with this list.  Will there be an album adaptation that I have to sit through next?

I am not even going to dignify this movie with a long entry.  It is disgusting, horrifying, and really shouldn't be given any special attention.  It almost ruins the List for me when a film like this is included in The Book, because no one should have to have these images in their brain.  It's something that you will never forget.  And for what?  So some Italian director who is fucked in the head can make some tired point about fascism?

Avoid at all costs.  Now I am upset that my sister is trying to tackle the List as well, because she will have to watch this.  Maybe I can persuade her to do it with a blindfold and ear plugs.  That will still count, right?

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

The director was murdered before the film was released.

600. Manila at the Claws of Light

Manila at the Claws of Light
Directed by Lino Brocka

600!  Wow, that is quite the chunk.  I just want to take a moment to thank all my followers and the people that take the time the comment.  I love feeling like I have people cheering me on while I complete this project.  Although my obsession with Lists is getting quite out of hand, so some might call you "enablers."

Julio Madiaga comes to Manila to look for his girlfriend, Ligaya.  Ligaya was recruited by a woman who promised her an education and a job in a factory in the city.  She then disappeared.  Man, I do not like where this is going.  As Julio points out, he can't search for her on an empty stomach, so he is forced to pick up some...unsavory jobs.

I had no idea what to expect with this film, since I have never watched a Filipino movie.  I feel weird about saying I enjoyed it, since it was obviously such a depressing story.  Still, I was completely hooked on the plot and the two hours flew by.  And no spoilers, but wow, what an ending!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Only Filipino film on the List.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

599. Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock
Directed by Peter Weir

I thought the premise of this film sounded absolutely amazing.  Then I realized about forty five minutes had gone by and really nothing had happened.  Another forty-five minutes passed and still nothing.  Surely, there has to be some kind of climax?  Nope.  And apparently that's why people like it so much, because it is open to interpretation.  What kind of lazy ass writing is that?

A group of girls and their teachers travel to Hanging Rock to have a picnic.  Several of the girls inexplicably disappear.  The only witness is an Englishman named Michael, who isn't quite sure what he saw.  That makes two of us.

Once again, I am forced to admit that although a film bored me, it was rather beautiful to look at.  Still, frequent readers will know that I throw a hissy fit if the plot isn't satisfactory.  Maybe we didn't need a concrete solution, but couldn't the entire two hour build up have some sort of pay off?  Apparently not.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

A bridal veil was placed over the camera lens to create the film's ethereal look.

Many of the girls' voices were dubbed.

598. India Song

India Song
Directed by Marguerite Duras

Yikes.  I sat through an hour long ballet at the Royal Opera House last night and had absolutely no idea what was going on.  It was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet so you would think I would be able to at least grasp part of the storyline.  I could not and haven't been that confused since my college statistic class.  Tonight, I was equally baffled from this film.  Am I stupid?  Should I just lean into this and start watching Adam Sandler films instead?  I shudder at the thought.

My understanding of the plot and the actual plot are two different things.  I believed that it was a love story between a man and a married woman, narrated by a gossiping crowd.  Apparently, it was actually about the many affairs of Anne-Marie, narrated by who the hell knows.

I suppose people will say it is a beautiful film, regardless of the confusing plot.  I guess there were a few landscape shots that were aesthetically pleasing, but what about all the dull scenes we had to endure?  For some reason,  Anne-Marie lies on the floor for five minutes and is joined by two shirtless men.  I wasn't stunned by the cinematography; I just felt mounting frustrating from not knowing what was going on.  I felt like a toddler that throws a tantrum because she can't button her coat by herself.

Definitely a miss but at least I made it through.  The couple next to me at the ballet had to leave halfway because they couldn't take it anymore.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Set in India, but shot outside of Paris.