Sunday, January 25, 2015

522. Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini

Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Directed by Vittorio de Sica

For some reason, I have been completely incapable of doing anything this week and it is getting to be quite the problem.  Can I summon the energy to write this review?  We shall see.  Please, please.  Don't call me a hero.

In late 1930s Italy, a wealthy Jewish family hosts tennis games at their estate, since recent anti-Semitic laws prohibit Jews from entering tennis clubs.  One of the family friends, Giorgio, is in love with Micol, whose father owns the estate.  Their very awkward kiss is pictured above.  Sometimes Micol seems really interested in Giorgio and other times...well...she makes that face.

Not much happens in this film and you kind of can guess the ending as soon as the it starts.  However, I kind of loved that about this movie.  There is a shadow hanging over this film the entire time and I found that pretty fascinating.  We always tend to idealize the past and this is a somewhat extreme example of this.  Definitely worth a watch.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

521. L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo

L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Directed by Dario Argento

As much as I enjoy some of the more artsy films on this list, it is great to every once in awhile just have a regular, tense thriller.  This was a fun murder mystery that I didn't have to think too hard about and after the week I had, this was heavily appreciated.

Sam, an American writer, witnesses the stabbing of a young woman, but is unable to reach her as he is trapped between two glass doors.  Sam and his girlfriend Giulia decide to try to track down the assailant, who is attacking young women left and right.

These kind of films are always entertaining but seldom well made.  However, some of the shots in this movie were just stunning, although I cannot give away my favorite one without spoiling the ending. These are the kind of gritty, Hitchcockian films that everyone can enjoy.  And yes, I was genuinely frightened by some parts of this movie.  Don't mock; my apartment gets very dark.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Directorial debut of Dario Argento.

The bird species in the film doesn't actually exist.

520. Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

It has been quite awhile since we have heard from Antonioni and I don't remember leaving him on the best terms (ahem...Blowup).  However, this was a pretty great film and really felt like it captured a beautiful moment in time.

Mark is a young protestor who claims that he is willing "to die for the cause, but not of boredom".  Here's a recommendation, Mark: don't watch some of the films on this list.  After fleeing a violent protest, he steals a plane and seduces Daria, a stereotypical 60s teenager.  A lot of what happens next doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the cinematography is so beautiful that you don't really care either way.

I really expected to hate this movie.  Don't get me wrong; I certainly thought it dragged on a bit longer that it should have.  Still, there were such beautiful moments that the entire film was worth it.  The explosion at the end?  The way the police officer enters the name "Karl Marx" as "Carl Marx" when Mark gives it as his alias?  The orgy scene?  Okay, wait.  The orgy scene was pretty weird.  Still worth it.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Harrison Ford can be seen in the background of the jail scene.

James Caan's least favorite film of all time.

The main actor in the movie, Mark Frechette, died in prison after robbing a bank.  He dropped a barbell on his neck.  See, this is why I don't work out.

519. Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter
Directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin

Mick Jagger once again makes an appearance and this time the result is a lot better.  I mean, this film didn't include any torture scenes with confusing messages on the walls and men in diapers.  So, you know.  Improvement.

Gimme Shelter is a documentary that follows The Rolling Stones' 1969 tour.  This, of course, is when the infamous Altamont Free Concert took place.  The footage of that concert is actually pretty disturbing to watch.  When is hiring Hell's Angels as security ever a good idea?  I would make a Real Housewives reference here, but I am trying to convince you guys I am at least a little bit intelligent.

I was never that big of a Stones fan but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this movie.  Obviously, the footage of the Altamont Free Concert was fascinating, especially since you can see Meredith Hunter, but I found the backstage negotiations just as interesting.  Definitely worth its place on The List.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

A total of four people died at Altamont.

George Lucas was one of the cameramen used in this film but not of his footage was used.

One of Premiere's 25 Most Dangerous Movies.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

518. Performance

Directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg

I somewhat forced Boyfriend to watch this movie with me.  He mentioned on the phone that a film with Mick Jagger might be interesting and I pounced on it.  Foolish boy.  In any case, Boyfriend absolutely hated this.  Now, it has been brought to my attention by a somewhat angry commentator that I seem to always hate movies so I really, REALLY tried to like this.  Sorry Angry Guy, I couldn't do it.  You may continue to despise me.

Boyfriend and I did our best to make sense of this movie and still couldn't understand the plot.  So we are both either really stupid or there are parts of this film that simply don't connect to the plot in any way.  Probably a combination of those two things.  I guess Chas is a member of a gang in London but has to flee after killing...someone.  So he goes to live with Mick Jagger and has a threesome?

Besides the confusing plot, we also are stuck with wooden actors and the most annoying sound effects I have ever heard. Boyfriend's heart also broke during the scene where the gang members poured hydrofluoric acid on a freshly waxed car.  I really traumatized him last night come to think of it.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

One woman vomited in shock after a test screening of this film.  All right, even I think that is an overreaction.