Saturday, April 25, 2015

531. Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude
Directed by Hal Ashby

Filmmakers love to create unlikely couplings and friendships.  While I am not a fan of the cheese factor that often comes with this, I have to say that this was rather enjoyable.  Now it is nearly impossible to have any sexual chemistry between a couple that is approximately fifty-five years apart.  But they got as close as they could with Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort and as this is a comedy, it is almost forgivable.

Harold is absolutely obsessed with death, mostly for the attention that the deceased get.  Ruth, on the other hand, is around eighty-five years old and is grateful for every second.  I would love to meet an elderly person like this, but I am not quite sure they exist.  Anyway, they fall in love, kind of, to what seems like the entire Cat Stevens catalog.  If there was ever an artist who is only good in moderation, it is Cat Stevens.

I did laugh quite a few times during this film, but I am struggling to understand what the point of it was.  I assume it was to challenge our notions of conventional romance, but you would think then that they would try to make the love story a bit more convincing.  Overall, an interesting movie but did not leave a very lasting impression on me.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The film was originally going to contain a scene with Harold and Maude having sex, but the studio refused.  Praise the lord.

530. Klute

Directed by Alan Pakula

I had this checked off in my Book, but had absolutely no memory of it.  I must have been in some sort of stupor when I crossed it out.  Out of politeness, let's pretend we all don't know exactly what kind of "haze" I must have been in when I did this.  Anyway, I am glad I finally got to watch this, although I can't say my opinion of Donald Sutherland has not changed.

Donald Sutherland plays Klute, a private detective who is hired to find the missing Tom Gruneman.  The only lead is a call girl, played by Jane Fonda, who has been receiving obscene letters from Gruneman.  Sutherland seems even more afraid of Fonda's sexuality than he is of making an expression.

Fonda's performance is absolutely incredible.  Her character is fascinating.  A part of her wants to quit prostitution, but it seems like she actually really enjoys it.  I was a little disappointed by the ending. I mean did the villain really start monologuing?  That always seems like a rather lazy plot device to me.

Still, worth watching just to see Jane Fonda ad-lib her character's therapy sessions.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Fonda hung out with pimps and prostitutes to prepare for the role.  When no pimp offered to "represent" her, she became convinced that she was too undesirable for the part.  Classic insecure girl move.  Or as I call it "The Amanda".

Barbra Streisand turned down the role of Bree.

The psychiatrist was originally played by a male but Fonda was convinced that her character would never open up to a man, so the therapist was changed to a female.

Monday, April 13, 2015

529. Walkabout

Directed by Nicolas Roeg

What a roller coaster that was.

A teenage girl and her young brother hide from their father after he completely loses it and starts shooting at them.  The pair set out into the Australian outback.  They might not have the best self-preservation instincts.  Anyway, the come across an Aboriginal boy, whose character development isn't...great.

What a strange, trippy movie.  Something big happens at the beginning, nothing really happens during the middle, and something mildly interesting happens at the end.  Obviously, the middle was a little hard to get through.

It was pretty much a worse version of Rabbit-Proof Fence.  So not loving how animalistic the Aboriginal boy was but I guess them's the breaks in the 70s.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The screenplay was only 14 pages long.

The main actress was embarrassed about her nudity so the majority of the crew left during those scenes.

528. McCabe and Mrs. Miller

McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Directed by Robert Altman

I had such high hopes for this film and once again, Robert Altman let me down.  In turn, I feel like I let Roger Ebert down by not liking it since he called the film "perfect." Let's just down this dose of Altman Misogyny as quickly as possible, shall we?

McCabe opens a brothel, which becomes significantly more profitable once he accepts the help of Mrs. Miller.  The Harrison Shaughnessy mining company offers to buy his business but he refuses.  Apparently, none of the men in this movie can tolerate being told no, so the company sends two men to kill him.  McCabe practically wets himself, which isn't exactly what I have come to expect from a Western hero.

That is, of course, the reason everyone goes crazy over this movie: it spins the Western formula on its head.  Part of this is achieved on randomly playing Leonard Cohen music in the background.  I am being extremely hard on this film.  There were good moments; there have to be if Warren Beatty is involved.  Also, it didn't bore me to tears, which in my opinion is worthy of a standing ovation after some of the films we have had to sit through.

So a film I desperately wanted to like but ended up hating.  Maybe you will have better luck.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Leonard Cohen hated the film when he first watched it, but ultimately came around.

Stanley Kubrick raved about the opening scene.

527. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Directed by Mel Stuart

This is a movie I grew up with, despite being born around 20 years after it came out.  I have seen it many times (although my mom would always fast forward through the tunnel scene, because it scared us, and Charlie's mom's solo, because my mom hated it).  This movie is absolutely magical and everything a children's movie should be: smart, not too preachy, and accessible to adults.

Willy Wonka is an eccentric candy maker who hides five golden tickets in his chocolate bars.  Whoever finds a tickets gets a lifelong supply of candy, a tour of his factory, and deep emotional scarring.  Charlie Bucket finds one of the tickets and decides to take his grandpa, who is magically able to get out of bed as soon as there is something he wants to do.  I sense a faker.  Anyway, the children and their guests tour the factory.  As soon as a child breaks the rules, they are disposed of in some horrific way and a song is sung about it.

Well, you can see just from the above picture that this film is absolutely gorgeous and impossible to watch without at least a bucket of candy at your side.  We have not had a good musical in awhile, so I welcomed this movie with open arms.

Don't even talk to me about the remake; seriously, it is that bad.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The chocolate river was made of real chocolate.  Apparently, it spoiled really quickly and the smell was just awful.

Roald Dahl reportedly hated the movie.

One Oompa-Loompa was a female.

The actresses who played Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde had crushes on the actor who played Charlie Bucket.

I've Got A Golden Ticket:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

526. Le Chagrin et la pitie

Le Chagrin et la pitie
The Sorrow and the Pity
Directed by Marcel Ophuls

I apologize that it has been so long since I posted on this.  Once again, I had a hard time finding this anywhere and finally had to ask my sister to get it out of one of her "fancier" libraries and wait for her to visit.  As is often the case, this movie was not worth the trouble that it took to get it.

I was pretty sure that I had seen this film already and was surprised when I didn't see a checkmark.  I guess there are so many World War II documentaries in this Book that they all start to blend together.   Or maybe I just thought I saw since it is mentioned in Annie Hall, which is one of my favorite movies.  Or maybe I am just stupid.  It really could be a combination of all those things.

This movie consists of talking head interviews.  The first half doesn't mention the Holocaust too much, it is mostly about the actual fighting of World War II.  Damn, that was boring.  Because all 99% of the interviews were in French, I pretty much read for four hours.  It was like reading a primary source textbook, but slightly less interesting, since no major players were interviewed.  The second half was a bit more intriguing, since it dealt with more personal stories.  Still, by the time the three hour mark passed, I was ready to call it a day.

I might have been harder on this film since we have seen so many great WWII films in The Book.  Maybe I am spoiled.  I am not very sure of myself in this review, am I?  Here is something I am sure about: Night and Fog is a much better option.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Was set to be a French television series but they refused to air it.