Sunday, January 31, 2016

697. The Big Chill

The Big Chill
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

This is my sister's all time favorite film.  I think it is partly because of the soundtrack and partly because the characters are alumni of University of Michigan, which is her alma mater.  I personally think her favorite movie is actually Grease, but she denies such claims.  Which is rude, because obviously I would know best.

Seven former college pals are reunited after their friend Alex kills himself.  I don't know why, but I love a story that starts at a funeral (Amsterdam, anyone?).  The reunion manages to rekindle old romances and provide new opportunities for everyone.

That was a pretty shitty summary and one that would probably garner a scolding from my older sister.  But honestly, I am pretty exhausted and really just want what any young woman wants: to eat three more Cadbury fudge bars and go to sleep.  This is a great movie, it is everything that Diner should have been.  I complained about A Christmas Story was too nostalgic and dated.  But this film was nostalgic in the best way.  There is nothing like old friends, especially when Ain't Too Proud To Beg is playing in the background.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The actors had three weeks to get to know each other before filming began.

696. Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi
Directed by Richard Marquand

Between sifting through disgusting, bloody photos for my Videodrome post and then coming across some rather shocking Princess Leia Comic-Con photos, finding pictures for my blog has become hazardous to my eyes.  We finally come to the last part of our trilogy and the last time this series was somewhat respectable.

Princess Leia and Luke attempt to save Han Solo from the evil crime lord Jabba the Hutt.  Leia is captured, gold bikini clad adventures ensue.  Luke and Leia's previous kiss becomes incredibly creepy and Ewoks delight millions.

This is the favorite installment of a lot of fans and it is easy to see why.  The action never lets up for a minute and things are wrapped up rather beautifully.  Still, I do feel like it became blatantly obvious in this movie that the filmmakers were becoming more and more money crazed.  Maybe they always were but they used to cover it up better.

I will always love this trilogy, though.  I saw the remastered version recently where Hayden Christensen was digitally added.  It actually wasn't the worst.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Several "wardrobe malfunctions" occurred during the scene where Leia is a slave due to the skimpy nature of her costume.

Endor is the Elvish name for Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings.  Nerdiest sentence ever.

695. Videodrome

Directed by David Cronenberg

Well that was gross.  It was extremely difficult finding a non disgusting picture to use for this post.  Unfortunately, I was not able to do it and we all now have to look at James Woods.  Okay, that was pretty mean but there is no denying Woods' sleaze factor.

Mark Renn is the president of a seedy tv station that specializes in soft core pornography.  He comes across Videodrome, a broadcast that continually shows snuff tv.  Max is ordered to pirate it for his station, since apparently it is the future of tv.  Sigh.  Anyway, the film really goes off the rails at this point and I can't really explain any more of the plot.

Like I said, this film was absolutely revolting.  There is no doubt that the special effects artists were doing their best to induce vomit in their audience.  Kudos.  You guys are the real heroes.  The film's plot is completely ridiculous and nonsensical, although I suppose it was only there to hammer home its message about the future of entertainment.  Perhaps being hypocritical was an artistic decision.  Ick.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Andy Warhol called this film A Clockwork Orange of the 1980s.

694. El Norte

El Norte
Directed by Gregory Nava

I read a brief plot summary before viewing this film and instantly knew where this story was headed.  Come to think of it, it is rather horrifying that stories like this are so predictable.  I actually liked this movie more than I thought I would, although it can hardly be called a good time at the cinema.

After their father is brutally murdered for trying to start a labor union, Enrique and Rosa flee from Guatemala and try to get to America, where they believe even the poorest people live well.  As we all know, whenever the American dream is mentioned a story, the characters usually end up getting everything they ever wanted and more.

We are subjected to quite a few grisly images in this movie, although I never got the impression it was gratuitous imagery.  The most memorable scene is probably when Enrique and Rosa are crossing the US border via the sewers and face a bit of a rat...situation.  It was particularly disturbing knowing that the lead actress also had a preexisting phobia of rats, meaning her terror was completely genuine.  I am still not sure what I think of the ambiguous ending, although I have a few theories.

Definitely a disturbing film that probably deserves its "must see" title.  Still, I kind of wish I had avoided this one.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

According to Nava, The Mexican police kidnapped the film's accountant and held him for ransom.

693. A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story
Directed by Bob Clark

I really hate Christmas movies and this film really is the season's original sin.  I don't know why, but I really want to punch this kid in the face, which is an impulse I shall reflect on at a later date.

Ralphie (ugh, this boy even has an obnoxious name) wants a Red Ryder BB Gun more than anything for Christmas.  He also has the typical adventures that a young boy in 1940s would have.  Obviously a very relatable concept for me.  Did I mention I hate Christmas movies?

This film relies so heavily on nostalgia that if you weren't a child during the post Depression era, the movie just misses.  The filmmakers are so busy nudging and winking at you that you can't even enjoy it  as a little snapshot of another time.  It just felt like one long inside joke that I wasn't in on.

Still, it could be a perfectly fine film if you can identify with that era or even if you are watching with someone who can.  And if you can stand...*shivers*...Ralphie.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Bob Clark and his son were killed by a drunk driver in 2007.

692. Fanny och Alexander

Fanny och Alexander
Fanny and Alexander
Directed by Ingmar Bergman

For some reason I deluded myself into thinking we were done with Bergman.  I really thought he was out of my life.  Well, today he came crashing back into it, bringing with him a three hour long Christmas movie.  Fortunately, it wasn't quite as dull as I was expecting.

After the death of their father, Fanny and Alexander are forced to move in with their mother's new husband, a tyrannical bishop.  He is only slightly less creepy than Robert Mitchum.  It is obvious that Bergman was heavily influenced by Charles Dickens; the spanking scene seemed like it was right out of David Twist.

Was this supposed to be insanely creepy?  I feel like I keep saying this, so maybe I am getting soft in my old age.  But man, how fucked up was that ending?  And when the statue beckoned to Alexander?  If these directors are trying to get me to pee my pants they are getting dangerously close.  I did enjoy this more than previous Bergman entries, but why did it have to be so long?  Apparently the tv miniseries was even longer.  By the end of hour two I was just ready to say goodbye to these characters, especially the spineless wife.

Still, at least now I can finally point to a Bergman I kind of, sort of enjoyed.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The first draft of the script contained 1,000 handwritten pages.

Bergman shot 24 hours of footage.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

691. De stilte rond Christine M.

De stilte rond Christine M.
A Question of Silence
Directed by Marleen Gorris

I have so many thoughts about this film that I apologize if I come across as a bit muddled.  I have been going into movies blind lately, without reading any kind of description of their plot beforehand.  I had no idea what this film was going to be about and I am pretty sure I watched most of it with jaw on the ground.  It was probably really attractive.

Three women who have never met before brutally kill a male shopkeeper, while several other females watch impassively.  A psychiatrist (also a woman) tries to ascertain whether or not the murderers were sane or not for their upcoming trial.

I have complained constantly on this blog about the treatment of women in film.  I can't help it; so many classic movies contain absolutely brutal acts of violence against women (not to mention the lack of representation).  Then we have a movie like this come along that is just so shocking and extreme.  Maybe we needed to see something this jolting after decades of silence.

Maybe not.  I know a lot of men are up in arms about this film.  I watched it on YouTube and one commentator accused anyone who liked this movie of being men haters with penis envy.  Funny that the same brutal criticism isn't given to men who like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Irreversible" for example.  Anyway, I am not saying I condone the act these women commit.  I actually feel a bit like the psychiatrist.  She doesn't necessarily approve of these women but she naturally finds herself opposed to the women's persecutors (and, in this case, prosecutors).

Definitely a film I will have to turn over in my mind for awhile.  The courtroom scene is truly unforgettable.  And what about when the prosecutor urges the psychiatrist to be objective and she replies, "And by objective, you mean your opinion?" What a boss.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Won the Grand Prix at the Creteil International Women's Film Festival.

Friday, January 29, 2016

690. La Notte di San Lorenzo

La Notte di San Lorenzo
Night of the Shooting Stars
Directed by Vittorio Taviani and Paolo Taviani

I don't know how many World War II movies are in The Book, but the number has to be astrological (get it?  Because of stars).  I am not complaining and we are certainly getting a wide range of perspectives.  Still, that makes it hard for a World War II film to stand out from the crowd.  This was an entertaining experience, but I am not sure it made that much of an impression on me.

At the end of World War II, German armies are retreating from Italy, but leaving behind paths of destruction.   A small village is told that they are soon to be bombed, so must congregate in the church. Half the town decides to put their faith in God (and presumably the Germans) and take shelter in the church while the other half decides to dress in dark clothing and attempt to find the Americans, who are rumored to be liberating towns all over Italy.  We mostly follow the people who flee, which includes the young Cecilia.

Let's start with what makes this film special.  First of all, we get the little girl perspective and she, strangely, seems to be having the time of her life throughout most of the film.  The film also sometimes blends fantasy with reality, but by my count there are only two "fantasy" scenes which was kind of startling.  If you are going to go the "Pan's Labyrinth" route, you should probably balance the scales a bit more.  Still, I was invested in the story.  I found myself thinking at one point "nothing better happen to these people!"  If threatening your monitor isn't a sign of a good film, I don't know what is.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The church bombing scene was based on the real life explosion in San Miniato, which is the Taviani brothers' birthplace.

689. Gandhi

Directed by Richard Attenborough

I had to watch this film in a high school history class.  I usually find biopics to be quite boring, but this is an exception as Gandhi is one of the most incredible human beings to have ever lived.  Certainly worthier of a film than Jake La Motta.

The movie starts with his assassination and then tells the story of Gandhi's adult life, from when he helped achieve rights for Indians in South Africa to his hunger strike.  I know I often complain about method actors like Al Pacino and...well, basically only Al Pacino.  But I didn't sense of the desperate actor coming out of Ben Kingsley.  He simply was Gandhi and it was incredible to watch.

Okay, yes it is a little long.  Actually, it is super long and with great length, comes some inevitable dullness.  A few parts of this movie dragged, but really I can't point to a specific section as unworthy of being in the film.  An enriching experience nonetheless.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The Indian government provided one third of the funding needed to make this film.

688. Fitzcarraldo

Directed by Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog has so far failed to impress me with his films, which I am sure has kept him up many nights.  This one made a bigger impact, although the fact that Herzog exploited natives for the sake of this movie dampens my enthusiasm a bit.

Fitzcarraldo plans on leasing an inaccesible parcel of land from the government in order to capitalize on the rubber trees.  He plans on getting there by hauling a steamship uphill with the help of the natives.  He will then use the money he earns to build an opera house.  Sounds like a good idea.  No more questions.

The pure feat of filming a movie in the Amazon is quite impressive, although like I said, the exploitation of indigenous people is absolutely horrendous.  It seems rather weird to then praise the film, but I have to say it is beautiful and Kinski does a good job, even though he is an ass.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

A real 340 steamship was moved over the mountain.  The crew used a bulldozer.

Klaus Kinski was a nightmare on set and argued with everyone constantly.

Apparently there were two prostitutes at camp.  Ugh.

687. Diner

Directed by Barry Levinson

I had seen this film a few years ago and the only thing that stood out for me was what a jack ass Steve Guttenberg was.  If someone made me take a quiz on football before they agreed to marry me, there wouldn't be a wedding, there would be an assault charge.

A group of male friends reunite for the wedding.  There is no real plot here; just a series of vignettes about the characters.  Think Big Chill, with less likable characters.

That's exactly the problem with this film.  I didn't like any of the characters, which, in a film like this, is very important.  Why would anyone like these characters?  Maybe you are not supposed to like, you were just supposed to find their antics entertaining.  I was so repulsed I couldn't even manage that.  I do have to give the film props for smart dialogue, but that's as far as I go.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The main characters met up in Baltimore before filming began to build a rapport.  They did this by picking up women and going out to clubs.

686. Yol

Directed by Yilmaz Guney

This is one of those films that is based on a great idea, but is spectacularly dull in its execution.  I feel bad about bashing all the foreign movies we have had recently but really, I can't be blamed for Too Early, Too Late.

Three men are prisoners in Turkey on furlough. Seyit Ali returns home to find that his wife is now a prostitute and her family is waiting for him to do the honorable thing. Meaning to kill her.  If you can believe it, that story gets even more disturbing, but I will stop there.  Mehmet Salih carries a secret with him that he is afraid to share with his family (which is quite fair; the people in this film don't seem to be particularly forgiving).  Oh yes, and Omer dreams of using his furlough as a way to escape prison forever.

Okay, maybe calling this movie dull isn't that fair of an assessment, as this film was full of action.  I was just completely down with these characters long before the 124 minutes were up.  All of these characters were absolutely contemptible, although at least the endings somewhat make up for it.  Still, a distinctly upsetting watch.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Yilmaz Guney directed the film from his jail cell.

685. Tootsie

Directed by Sydney Pollack

I really do not find men dressed in drag to be that funny, even if it wasn't politically incorrect.  It's just not a very smart joke in itself.  Still, I laughed during the a few bits in the film despite myself.

Michael Dorsey is out of work actor, who can't find a job because of his notorious perfectionism.  On a whim, he dresses as Dorothy Michaels and auditions for a role in a soap opera and gets it.  Hilarity ensues.  I mean, if you find it easier to get work as a woman than as a white man, you must really suck at being a person.  Which I suppose he does.

Overall, it is a very silly film and one that I can't really defend against criticism.  The romantic subplots are a bit upsetting, to say the least.  I suppose we can look at this as a male gaining female perspective, but something tells me this character's selfishness wasn't resolved at the end of the movie.  Still, Dustin Hoffman getting a taxi will always make me laugh.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Dustin Hoffman reportedly got help from Meryl Streep to give his voice right for the part.

Dorothy Michaels' breasts cost $175 each.

684. The Evil Dead

The Evil Dead
Directed by Sam Raimi

I could almost give this movie a favorable review if it wasn't for the tree rape scene.  I can't fathom why that was included.  Obviously, the idea of a tree raping someone is too ridiculous to be scary.  I guess it was for the sole reason of being perverse, which immediately makes me lose respect for the filmmakers.  Sigh.

Five Michigan State University students travel to a cabin in Tennessee to spend their spring break.  It's the eighties, so they don't know yet that a trip like that will ultimately end in mass murder.  They unknowingly awaken evil spirits and some gross stuff happens.

So like I said, the tree scene ultimately ruins the movie for me.  I suppose it wasn't that great anyway, but it could have been fun.  It was strange that the character they chose to survive the longest was so boring, so it was hard to feel that invested.

I guess there's no denying the contribution this formula made to horror movies.  Still.  Blech.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Sam Raimi reportedly regrets the tree scene.  Well that's something at least.

683. Blade Runner

Blade Runner
Directed by Ridley Scott

If I ever finish A Dance To The Music of Time (which might take approximately 70 more years), I would love to explore Philip K. Dick's work, who is obviously a brilliant writer.  I can't say I loved this film, but it certainly has its merits.

The film takes place in 2019, so Los Angeles is now a dystopian nightmare.  Wow, that's happening rather soon.  Replicants, that are virtually indistinguishable from humans, are used to do work in space colonies, but some escape to Earth.  It is the job of Blade Runners to hunt down and kill these replicants.  Harrison Ford stars as Deckard, a retired Blade Runner who agrees to take on one more assignment.

That sounded rather complicated and there were quite a few points in the film that I was really confused.  I will own to my attention faltering sometimes; the middle portion of the movie dragged a bit.  It was also hard to enjoy the Deckard/Rachael relationship as he seemed to really force himself on her.  I do love the idea of combining noir with science fiction, but the result wasn't quite as great as I expected.  I'll blame the voice overs like everyone else does.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Philip Dick was only able to see the first twenty minutes of this film before his death.  He was quite impressed with what he saw.

Harrison Ford calls this the most grueling film he has ever made.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

682. The Poltergeist

The Poltergeist
Directed by Tobe Hooper

I saw the remake of this film in theaters during a second date gone terribly wrong.  I personally don't think you should go to a movie together until at least the fifth date, because why would anyone want to sit in a dark theater with a stranger for a couple hours?  For some reason I thought it would be embarrassing if he saw me jump during the film, so I made sure to focus only on out of focus things.  This is a great way to give yourself a booming migraine and the night concluded with me vomiting.  I wish so many of my stories didn't end that way.  I never did get a third date, which I know must be quite puzzling to my readers.  Anyway, the remake sucked and this kind of sucked too.

The Poltergeist follows the haunting of the Freeling family.  This kind of film has been done a million times now, so you don't need much more of a plot summary then "things get worse."

I think I have mentioned this before, but my siblings and I love binge watching horror films so this is a formula I am very familiar with it.  I suppose I can't fault the movie for having absolutely zero surprises, but it still wasn't the most enjoyable experience.  Some of the "scares" were downright silly.  I will not be afraid of a tree, no matter how much 80s horror directors try to shove that on us.

RATING: **---                                    

Interesting Facts:

Heather O'Rourke and Dominique Dunne are buried in the same cemetery.  O'Rourke died of a heart attack at the age of 12 and Dunne was strangled by her boyfriend.  Awful.

Lou Perryman was murdered with an ax in 2001.  Dear lord.

681. The Thing

The Thing
Directed by John Carpenter

I recall my playwriting professor naming this as an example of a great ending.  I guess to reveal its brilliance would constitute a spoiler alert citation.  But this is truly a must see film and I am not just saying that because I'm a kiss ass.

Basically, a group of Americans working in a research station in Antarctica are being terrorized by an alien who is capable of taking the form of any living creature.   The paranoia between the scientists becomes as destructive as the Thing itself.

We have been hit with quite a few sci fi films recently and this is easily my favorite.  First of all, I adore Kurt Russell and thought he was perfect in this: rugged but not unreasonably so for a scientist.  The tension is this movie is skillfully done.  Just like in Das Boot, we feel just as trapped as the characters.  The story and tone reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft's story At the Mountains of Madness, which I realize is a rather obscure reference.  Still, the similarities are striking.

Definitely something that alien, especially Alien, lovers will enjoy.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Personal favorite film of John Carpenter.

All male cast.  How empowering.  Good for them.

680. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Directed by Steven Spielberg

This is one of those family movies that are a bit hard to swallow, owing to the immense cheesiness of it all (although perhaps that is a poor description as I have never had a problem swallowing cheese).  I have seen "children's" movies that are a bit more adult friendly though, so I might be a bit harsh.

A little boy named Elliott discovers ET, a weird, plant-like creature left behind on Earth after a routine flower picking trip with his fellow aliens (because of course).  Elliott hides him with the help of his two siblings and attempt to get him home, while avoiding capture from government agents.  To further complicate things, ET and Elliott begin to form some kind of psychic connection for some reason and seem to be dying for some other reason.

There are quite a few holes in this story that seem to only be cleared up by the answer "because magic" which seems a little out of place in a sci fi story.  At least give us some kind of explanation even if it involves a lot of nonsense like "midi-chlorians" or "hacking into the hard drive."  I suppose I am not the audience for this film now, although I do recall watching it as a child and not being too impressed either.  Little Amanda was quite the snob.

At least we get to see Drew Barrymore young and listen to a pretty awesome score.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

It is generally thought that product placement was born in this film, in this case with Reese's Pieces.

Sarah Michelle Gellar auditioned for the role of Gertie.  She is everything.

679. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Directed by Amy Heckerling

The female directors have been few and far between on The List, although I can't fairly blame the editors of this book for that.  Still, it is refreshing when one comes along although  I am not quite sure this movie deserves the praise that has been heaped on it.

The film follows the story of several students at Ridgemont High.  The most important characters are Brad, a senior who must endure humiliating jobs, his sexually inexperienced sister Stacy, and her more sexually experienced friend Linda.  Hey, every good story needs the virgin and the whore dynamic.  You also have Sean Penn floating in the peripheries as Jeff Spicoli, a stoner who constantly infuriates his teacher, Mr. Hand.

It is clear from this film that teen comedies hadn't really hit their stride yet.  Don't get me wrong; it is entertaining and has plenty of funny bits.  But I couldn't shake the feeling that the filmmakers were handling the Linda character all wrong.  What did we learn from her sexual awakening?  That sex for women is awkward and humiliating, an act that can only end in rejection, unplanned pregnancy, or worse?  I don't want to be unfair to Heckerling, but it seems like she could have maybe shaken up the usual message that is spouting to women during their teenage years.

Maybe I am asking too much from her; I am just excited we finally have a female director that makes enjoyable films. Also, she didn't write the screenplay so I suppose it is ultimately from a male perspective.  Is it time for Clueless yet?

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Only time Nicolas Cage has appeared in a film as Nicolas Coppola.

Based on Cameron Crowe's book, which he wrote after attending a high school undercover.  Is this real life?

678. Trop tôt, Trop tard

Trop tôt, Trop tard
Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet

The poindexter who put this film on the List stated that this was his favorite landscape movie.  A competitive category, to be sure.  Not only was this ridiculously hard to find, but it is one of the most boring film experiences I have ever had.

So basically we are treated to an hour and forty minutes of shots of the French countryside, while the two directors read out loud text written by Friedrich Engels and Mahmoud Hussein.  I felt like I was being forced to look through a vacation photo album from a particularly unlikable relative, although truly if anyone in real life was talking to me in such a monotonous voice, I would be obliged to put my foot down.

It doesn't help this film's case that it was so hard to find, although I suppose the sheer dullness of this one makes it unlikely that anyone that isn't a List follower would be trying to find it.  I had to download the file, run it through a file converter, download another app to watch it, and then translate the subtitles.

I feel like I should at least touch on the political commentary in this film, but I feel I like I got as much out of it as I would a high school history presentation, done by a student who refuses to look up from the notebook they are reading from.  Definitely not worth finding.   We should all assist in helping this fade into obscurity.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

None. None interesting facts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

677. Czlowiek z zelaza

Czlowiek z zelaza
Man of Iron
Directed by Andrzej Wajda

I had seen this film before viewing its predecessor, Man of Marble.  Even with the newly discovered context, this was nowhere near as impressive as the previous movie.

The film follows the shipyard workers strike in Gdansk.  The son of Mateusz Birkut, the protagonist of the first movie, is heavily involved in the protests.  A journalist is given the job of slandering him on behalf of the Communist party.   A couple things from the first film are cleared, although I personally enjoyed the ambiguity of that movie and wasn't really searching for edification.

This feels a lot more like a Polish history lesson that the other movie.  I felt like that film at least tried to be entertaining while this time around the filmmakers just wanted to get their message out there and then drop mic out of this.  I suppose I do still appreciate Wajda's technique but he kind of lost me on this one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Written in only six days.

676. Tre fratelli

Tre fratelli
Three Brothers
Directed by Francesco Rosi

We haven't had to deal with my distaste for Italian films in a little while, but now my disdain will rear its ugly head again.  If you can get something out of Italian cinema, I envy you.  I have never been able to watch one without boring the living daylights out of me.  I didn't hate this one quite as much as previous entries on The List, but I certainly wouldn't qualify it as a must see.

The matriarch of an Italian family dies, though her husband is still haunted by her memory.  Did anyone else think the beginning of this movie, when the old lady is waving and disappears in the distance, terrifying?  Maybe I have seen too many horror films, but that was oddly chilling.  Anyway, her husband alerts their three sons, all of whom return to the family farm.  They reflect on the ways their lives have turned out, each grieving differently.

The most interesting character's story is definitely Raffaele's, who is presiding over a terrorism case and fears assassination.  We get to see how his worst nightmare plays out through his eyes.  I honestly found the other two brothers rather dull.  I really wish we didn't have to spend so much time watching Nicola's daughter pee.

There were plenty of beautiful moments in this film, but I can't honestly say I didn't look at the clock many times, waiting for it to be over.  So a positive for me, as far as Italian cinema goes.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Opening film in the Cannes film festival.

675. An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London
Directed by John Landis

I left England in mid December and still miss it everyday.  It has been a hard adjustment and it is great watching a film where I can revisit favorite places and say "hey, I was standing where that man got his head ripped off."

David and Jack are American college students who venture to the North York Moors on a backpacking trip.  They are warned by the locals to keep to the road and beware the full moon but of course horror film characters are incapable of listening.  They encounter a werewolf and disgusting transformations occur.

The most famous element of this film is obviously the make up and special effects which are rather impressive even after thirty years.  Still, I am not super into gore and that was probably the least intriguing feature for me.  I thought this film blended comedy and horror remarkably well which, as many cringe inducing movies can prove to us, is a difficult feat.  How creepy are the English moors anyway?  The beginning of the movie reminded me of The Hound of the Baskervilles in the best way.

Definitely an exciting development in the horror genre and worth a watch.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

First film to win Best Make Up at the Academy Awards, a category invented in 1981.

674. Reds

Directed by Warren Beatty

This is a film that I really could have enjoyed had it not been so damn long that it even needed an intermission.  Curse Beatty's self indulgence.

Louise Bryant meets the idealistic John Reed at a lecture.  His views fascinate her and
the two begin an affair, each becoming more radically liberal in their writing and political opinions.  Their relationship continues to develop despite the fact that neither are too willing to give up their independence.  They go through many ups and downs and heaven help us, we are only at intermission.

With the House of Un-American Activities Committee all up in Hollywood's ass throughout the 1950s, it is cool and unusual to see an honest film about leftist politics.  Still, why did it have to be over three hours?  Personally, I didn't feel as though their romance was that compelling.  It was hard to want the two main characters to end up together when they seemed incapable of being faithful to each other.

Might be worth a watch, but I don't know if I can recommend three hours of Warren Beatty intensity in good conscience.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Gene Hackman did 100 takes of the scene where his character tells Louise that she lost her job.

Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty were involved but their relationship deteriorated during filming.

673. Body Heat

Body Heat
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

We haven't had a good film noir movie in ages and yet every other film seems to be about war.  Damn the late seventies.

Ned Racine has an affair with Matty Walker during a Florida heat wave.  Matty and Ned begin to explore the idea of offing Matty's husband to get his money and continue their sweaty love story.  Of course, these things rarely go smoothly, especially when there is a woman with a husky voice involved.

I really enjoyed this film, although I have to say I am not a huge William Hurt fan.  I always find him to be like a duller version of Kevin Costner.  I did love the feeling of the film, as the characters always seemed to be sweltering, desperate for some kind of release.  The ending was definitely not what I was expecting and manages to still work, even if it is a bit implausible.

I miss the forties.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner introduced themselves to each crew member naked to make them feel comfortable filming their love scenes.

672. Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire
Directed by Hugh Hudson

After a very interesting film about two runners, we come to a very boring film about runners.  I have said many times that sports movies are simply not my thing so don't expect a rave.

Chariots of Fire tells the story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics.  One is a devout Scottish Christian discouraged by his sister to abandon running to service God and one is a English Jewish man who often faces adversity and prejudice.

This film tries really hard to be inspirational and maybe a few times it succeeded.  Still, it was hard to get into any of these characters.  It was hard to get too excited for them either; the problems that were presented to them in the film didn't seem like they would be solved with gold medals (although I guess that isn't the point of sports; could someone tell me what the point is?).

Still, that score almost makes up for this being such a dud.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Both Stephen Fry and Kenneth Branagh are in this film but only for a few seconds.

Monday, January 25, 2016

671. Gallipoli

Directed by Peter Weir

An Australian war movie about two runners?  It truly sounds like an absolute nightmare for me, but I was actually able to enjoy it quite a bit.  Low expectations always manage to save the day.

Two sprinters, Archie and Frank, decide to enlist in Australian Imperial Force during World War II.  The two are separated, with Archie going with the Light Horses and Frank going with the Australian version of T-birds to train in Cairo.  Both men are eventually sent to Gallipoli and well, I suppose a knowledge of that battle is a spoiler in itself.

I am not sure I can adequately defend this one.  It is a pretty cut and dried story. The whole "loss of innocence" isn't exactly an original concept, and it played out fairly routine on screen. Still, I found myself quite riveted by this film.  Obviously, if you know about this battle, you know what is going to go down (even though there were quite a few historical inaccuracies in this).  However, in this movie there is no question of what will happen. Instead, we are left to wonder  how something like this could have happened.  Why did these two young, strapping men with great potential abandon all other dreams for the life of soldier?  Oh yes, and Mel Gibson is hot.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

In the movie, Archie is unable to enlist at first because he is not yet 21.  In 1915 Australia, the minimum age that you could enlist was 18.

At the time, was the most expensive Australian film ever made.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

670. Das Boot

Das Boot
The Boat
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

I am sorry if I am overwhelming anyone with the amount of reviews I am writing.  As I stated in previous posts, I am currently recovering from surgery and cannot really get out of bed owing to a myriad of things, including pain, nausea, and itchiness.  I know, I paint quite a picture of myself.  But don't anyone here fall in love with me.  Anyway, if anyone would prefer I slow down and maybe space out reviews by only posting one or two a day (I could still write as much as I want by saving them as drafts) let me know in the comments!

All right, Das Boot.  This is quite the long film; I think the director's cut is over four hours long.  I (happily) only watched the theatrical release.  I usually complain about ridiculously long films, but I actually quite enjoyed this one.

The story follows a German submarine crew during World War II.  They face the basic wartime horrors you would expect, although it actually seemed quite fresh since we usually don't see it from this kind of perspective.  Wow, how detached do I sound?  It is actually quite disturbing.

I have always thought that the concept of a submarine was rather terrifying.  The film really captures how claustrophobic those soldiers must have felt.  Although I guess outside their submarine was death and destruction.  Anyway, great acting, great tension, great film.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Same submarine models that were used for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Much of the cast was kept indoors so that they would be as pale as an actual submarine crew.

669. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Directed by Steven Spielberg

This is one of those really fun movies that I know I am not supposed to enjoy as much as Bergman or Fellini.  But this was a really welcome antidote to some of the more serious films I have had to watch lately.

Indiana Jones is an archaeology professor by day (I would totally change majors if he had taught classes at my college) and a fearless globetrotting adventurer by nights and university sanctioned breaks.  He is approached by intelligence agents and learns that the Nazis are attempting to find the Ark of Covenant in order to make their armies invincible.  He tries to find the Ark first, with the help of his old mentor's daughter.

This film is just fun from start to finish, which I am pretty sure is something I said about Star Wars.  I might even recommend this movie more, since you have don't have the sci fi element which some people find off putting while still maintaining the Harrison Ford-y splendor.   I also like that the female lead in this wasn't entirely useless.  And you can't beat that score or opening scene.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to do this film while building a sandcastle together.  Adorable.

Indiana never loses his hat throughout the film as an homage to serials of the 1940s.

His name was originally supposed to be Indiana Smith.

668. Raging Bull

Raging Bull
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Yet another boxing movie that is supposed to shock us with our gritty realism.  I know, I am supposed to go through the whole song and dance of praising this film, but honestly, this is one of my least favorite genres in film.

Jake La Motta is a boxer and overall terrible human being, whose terribleness drives away his family and friends.  He is abusive, jealous, and basically a rage monster.  He is someone I would never want to meet in real life, or watch a two hour plus film about.

I am not going to sit here and say this movie was complete crap, because it's Scorsese and everything he makes is probably worth a watch.  But it certainly wasn't fun watching such a boor on screen.  And I personally think watching movies should be fun or enriching in some way.  I really can't say that about this film.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

When the real Jake La Motta watched this and realized he was the worst, he asked his wife if he had been that bad.   She said he was worse.

Joe La Motta sued Universal for their depiction of him.

667. Airplane!

Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker

Back when I was a young, carefree lass who wasn't following the List, I attempted to watch this with my sister.  We got about twenty minutes into before we had to turn it off.  This is saying a lot, since we have sat through some pretty horrible things.  When I started the List, I realized I would have to start this one over.  It was a somber day.

Ted is an ex fighter pilot who has a deep fear of flying.  He boards an airplane his girlfriend is serving as a flight attendant in hopes of winning her back.  During the flight, the pilots and many of the passengers get sick from the fish (see?  Being a vegetarian is cool!), so it is up to Ted to save the day.

A lot of times there isn't much to say about a comedy you don't like other than "I didn't think it was funny."  Some people might find the humor offensive, as a large portion of the jokes were racist, sexist, or vaguely creepy.  I think they were self aware, although I don't really consider that a pass to continue doing it and calling it entertainment.  I didn't find any of the jokes particularly offensive, just not very smart.

Still, if you did find this movie entertaining, I don't judge you.  I have never seen a disaster film (thank goodness) so wasn't entirely in on the joke anyway.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Aeromexico was the only airline to provide Airplane! as in flight entertainment.

Woody Allen loves this movie.  We really do not have the same taste.  Maybe that's a good thing.

666. Loulou

Directed by Maurice Pialat

For some reason I was convinced this film was called "Lola" and started watching the Fassbinder movie.  I realized that I was watching the wrong movie but, still sure it was called "Lola" had a hard time finding this.  Truly, the enormity of my genius astonishes even me sometimes.

Nelly is married to her a boss, an abusive man that she is getting fed up with.  She meets Loulou and is so intoxicated by his dick that she attempts to abandon her bourgeoisie life to start a life with Loulou's penis...I mean, Loulou.  How many more women will fall for Gerard Depardieu'

This film actually reminded me a lot of Turkish Delight, although that was Dutch and this film is distinctly French.  It felt like Pialat was showing us the France we expected to see rather than anything particularly new, at least for me.  The plot moves along really slowly and I hate to always be complaining about the quality of subtitles but mine were a few minutes off, making the film a chore to follow.

Lola is something that can certainly be skipped.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Pialat is often compared to John Cassavettes.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

665. The Big Red One

The Big Red One
Directed by Samuel Fuller

I have written quite a few reviews today but we are ending on a rather dull note.  The most remarkable feature of this film for me will always be that Mark Hamill is in it, which is the first time I have seen him in something other than Star Wars.  Exciting stuff.

The film follows the movements of the 1st Infantry Division during World War II.  That's about as specific as I can get, as there isn't a linear plot, so to speak.  That's the story I am sticking to anyway.  There probably was a specific story, but I missed it because I was so bored.

If I am going to see a war story, I prefer when the conflict is the backdrop (such as in The Last Metro) than watching the actual fighting.  I also found the ending to be a bit ridiculous, but I don't want to give away spoilers.

Entirely skippable, but there have been really good movies lately, so let's not let this dampen our spirits.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Director Samuel Fuller served in World War II.

Fuller originally submitted a four hour long cut.  It was rejected by the studio, thank god.

664. The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man
Directed by David Lynch

I recently saw the hospital the real Joseph Merrick stayed in London, although I was too freaked out that I was on my own in Whitechapel to properly appreciate the historical significance.  That was a fun fact before a very unfun movie.

This is the story of John Merrick, a severely deformed man who is being exploited at a freak show.  Frederick Treves, a surgeon, tracks him down with the intent to study his condition.  Obviously, they form a deeper connection.

I might be accused of being heartless, but honestly, I felt that this movie was a bit heavy handed with its moralism.  The movie just kept going more and more over the top.  I didn't think the director could outdo the famous "I am not an animal!" scene, but the ending was possibly even more sentimental. It's one of those films where everyone believes they are giving career defining performances that I find exhausting to watch.

Call me a cold bitch, but this is a two star movie.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Joseph Merrick's exact condition is still not known.

Mel Brooks was the producer of this film but left his name out of the credits so the audience wouldn't get the wrong idea.

663. Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back
Directed by Irvin Kershner

I must confess, I still haven't seen the latest Star Wars movie.  I'll get around to it.  My parents saw it and they said that it felt like it was there to sell merchandise and prepare people for sequels.  Maybe that is what they are all created for, but I do feel like it was more fun to look back at this universe rather than have a new sequel come out every year in such a cookie cutter-like fashion.  I guess I shouldn't judge until I see it for myself.

Like I said with the previous Star Wars film, I don't really what to sit here and type out a plot synopsis.  I would either get way too specific and be crowned Miss Nerd 2016 or be too broad and have no one know what I am talking about.  Although I guess Star Wars isn't considered that nerdy anymore.  Suffice to say, the plot is a bit more complicated than in our previous entry.

I am going to give this film a five star rating without much of a reason other than "It was so fun!"  Some might find the special effects to be corny now, but I think I get even more impressed watching them now, knowing the restrictions of the time.

Definitely worth the hype.  Anyone see the new one yet?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Film that George Lucas had the least to do with.

Highest grossing movie of 1980.

662. The Shining

The Shining
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

It's strange after writing about so many films that no one has heard of to now be writing about major blockbusters.  It is probably more fun for readers who are not dedicated List followers, but it is a bit hard to find something new to say about these movies.

Has anyone not seen this?  I know my aunt won't let my cousin watch it because she gets too scared.  My cousin is now 30, but I guess that doesn't change anything.  Jack Torrance takes his family with him to be the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in hopes that the isolation will get rid of his writer's block.  His son (who is absolutely adorable and not obnoxious; a hard feat for kids in horror films) is the first to notice that they might not be alone in the hotel.

I read the Stephen King novel and I think this is one of the few cases where the movie is better than the book.  It was a while ago, but I remember thinking it was rather cheesy how King expected us to be scared of the actual hotel (like the walls and the radiator).  In the movie, the horrors are a lot more chilling.  We have Jack Nicholson slowly losing his mind and becoming increasingly abusive to his wife and child, and there is nothing supernatural about that.  I think his performance scared me more than the ghosts, excepting maybe the twin girls.  Twin girls should not be allowed to wear matching outfits.  Period.

Definitely one of the best horror films of all time and one of the reasons that I continue to like Kubrick, despite everything he has done to me.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Kubrick was very protective of child actor Danny Lloyd, and made him believe he was shooting a drama film.  You're all right, Stan.

Shelley Duvall was pushed to near hysteria by Stanley Kubrick in order to get her best performance.  She suffered from exhaustion and hair loss.

The color red is in every shot in the film.

661. Le Dernier Metro

Le Dernier Metro
The Last Metro
Directed by Francois Truffaut

Few people have probably seen the monstrosity I was subjected to a couple months ago called The Traveling Players.  The four hour long story followed a theater troupe around Greece as they performed shows during World War II.  It was completely dull and awful.  But The Last Metro is everything that film should have been.

During the occupation of Paris, the wife of a Jewish theater owner conceals her husband in the cellar as she attempts to put on a play to save the theater, acting as both the director and the lead actress.  To do this, she must avoid arousing the suspicion of the Gestapo while not bruising any male egos.  No easy feat.  Her lead man, Bernard Granger, attracts her attention, despite the fact that he is a shameless womanizer.

I'll start by saying I really enjoyed this film, but for some reason my criticisms are coming to mind more than the movie's merits.  For one thing, I wish the romance had been introduced earlier in the film.  I knew there was a love triangle in this film, but there was forty minutes to go and I felt like the two leads had barely interacted. The ending too left a bit to be desired.  I was really invested in the characters and wished that we knew more definitively what happened to them.

Still, like I said, I really did like this film.  It was fascinating to watch these people still try to live their normal lives, even in such insane conditions.  It made me wonder if they were heroic or just in denial.  Also, Catherine Deneuve is everything.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of Truffaut's most profitable productions.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

660. Atlantic City

Atlantic City
Directed by Louis Malle

I asked my parents if they wanted to watch this film with me.  Since it stars Susan Sarandon and Burt Lancaster, it seemed like one of the less frightening entries on the List.  Still, about twenty minutes into the movie, my mom said, "I think I hate this."  I couldn't help but agree with her a tiny bit.

Sally is an aspiring blackjack dealer whose life is complicated by the arrival of her estranged husband and her pregnant sister, whom he ran away with.  She lives in the same apartment building as Lou, a bookie who frequently watches Sally wash herself, but somehow no one is creeped out by this.  Their lives become even more entangled when Sally's husband tries to sell stolen cocaine and enlists Lou's help.

I feel like that was a really poor summary, but honestly, this film is all over the place anyway.  The Book seems to think that the fact that this movie doesn't fall into any kind of genre is a merit, but it felt incredibly messy to me.  I thought the character's actions and dialogue were startlingly unnatural.  For example, at one point, the elderly lady who Lou takes care of (and apparently has old people sex with) started talking about how she dreamed of owning shoes with live goldfish in them.  I think it was supposed to be a beautiful moment, but it just fell flat for me.

The film did have its exciting moments, but overall it felt forced and I was very happy when the credits rolled.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

It is rumored that Burt Lancaster would have won an Oscar for his performance if it wasn't for Jane Fonda's aggressive campaign for her father's, Henry Fonda, work in On Golden Pond.

Louis Malle and Susan Sarandon were romantically involved prior to filming.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

659. Ordinary People

Ordinary People
Directed by Robert Redford

Welcome to the 1980s everybody!  We usually start off a bit roughly, but this time we kick off with a Best Picture winner.  I disagree with the Academy about a lot, but I have absolutely no problem with Raging Bull being upstaged.  But mostly because I hate Raging Bull.

The Jarrets are a middle class family trying to recover from the accidental death of their eldest son and the attempted suicide of the surviving one.  Mary Tyler Moore is a cold bitch, while Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton try to heal.

I have written quite a few posts today and have just taken my nightly painkillers so I already feel myself slowing down.  Let's keep this short!  Mary Tyler Moore is absolutely fantastic in this role.  Was anybody else freaked out by her?  I don't think the goal was to scare us but she gave me chills.  I love films that are mostly dialogue and every line in this movie was genuine and emotionally real.  Down with Raging Bull!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Mary Tyler Moore's son died accidentally the same year this film was made.

1970s Oscars!

Hello all!

We have finished yet another decade.  I went into the 1970s expecting to have to sit through mostly over the top artsy movies and gritty Vietnam war dramas.  Fortunately, we also got some of the best comedies and musicals of all time.  I do have to admit I am a bit trepidatious about the 80s.  Although I guess I should be more scared to start the 80s on my album blog.  Here are my top and bottom picks of the 1970s.  This isn't scientific and totally subjective but feel free to argue with me in the comments section!

Nominees: Manhattan
                  Annie Hall
                  Star Wars
                  Barry Lyndon
                  The Godfather: Part II
                  Fox and his Friends
BEST ACTOR: Robert De Niro
Nominees: Richard Dreyfus
                  Robert Redford
                  Woody Allen
                  Bruno Ganz
BEST ACTRESS: Diane Keaton
Nominees: Meryl Streep
                  Jodie Foster
                  Hanna Schygulla
                  Piper Laurie
WORST PICTURE: Salo, 120 Days of Sodom
Nominees: The Tin Drum
                  The Hills Have Eyes
                  A Clockwork Orange
                  Pink Flamingos
Nominees: Steven Spielberg
                  Rainer Werner Fassbinder
                  Martin Scorsese
                  Ridley Scott
BEST LINE: "To you from me Pinky Lee!"-Grease
Nominees: "My analyst warned me but you were so beautiful I got another analyst."-Manhattan
                  "Love is too weak a word for what I feel for you.  I lurve you."-Annie Hall
                  "Death has come to your little town, Sheriff."-Halloween

658. Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht
Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night
Directed by Werner Herzog

If I'm not mistaken, this is the fourth (possibly final?) Dracula film we have seen for the Book.  How does this story always seem so fresh?

I am not going to go through a plot summary because my youth and beauty are fleeting and I have already written this synopsis three times.  I will say that this is a bit more gory than the previous Dracula entries in the Book.

What a beautiful tribute to silent German cinema this was.  This is a gorgeous movie, one that can be admired even if you're not a Murnau fan girl.  Maybe it was the rats, maybe it was the fact that Lucy had a bit more power than in the usual vampire tale.  But I thought this film had more depth and action than any previous Dracula we had to watch.  Definitely a must see.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Klaus Kinski spent four hours a day in make up.

657. Mad Max

Mad Max
Directed by George Miller

I think Charlize Theron's Mad Max may be what people think of when they hear the title of this film.  I haven't seen the remake or sequel or whatever it is supposed to be and if it is anything like this, I have no desire to.

Mel Gibson plays Max, an officer in dystopian Australia's highway patrol.  His job is track down gang members that are terrorizing people.  Eventually he tires of spending all his working hours killing people and decides to spend more time with his family killing people.

I suppose this is the kind of dose of testosterone that men may enjoy.  Heavy violence, car chases, Mel Gibson in leather.  Of course, there is no male equivalent for the word "chick flick" since society doesn't feel the need to belittle genres men enjoy.  In any case, as far as revenge cases go, this was rather half assed.  Definitely missable.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Toe Cutter's performance was based on the actor's research on the behavior of Genghis Khan.

656. Manhattan

Directed by Woody Allen

Finally, after a streak of rather grueling films, we get to one of my favorites movies of all time.  I can never decide if I prefer this to Annie Hall, but since no one has ever asked/cared, I guess I don't have to ponder the question too much.

Isaac Davis is a 42 year old television comedy writer who is dating a 17 year old girl.  Eerie foreshadowing.  Anyway, he also pursues a romantic relationship with his friend's mistress.

Beautiful cinematography, wonderful actors, brilliant dialogue; I can't praise this film enough.  Nothing about this film is cliche but somehow it is one of the most realistic romances I have ever seen.  When did romantic comedies start to suck so hard?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Woody Allen detested this film.

655. The Muppet Movie

The Muppet Movie
Directed by James Frawley

Continuing my campaign of killing buzzes, we come to the Muppets.  I never got the appeal of the Muppets and can safely say after seeing this film that I still haven't.

Kermit takes a road trip to Los Angeles in order to make a movie.  He meets many quirky Muppet and human characters along the way.  Songs are song.  Orson Welles makes an appearance.  I feel like I am describing a really bad trip I had.

I think there are plenty of children's movies that can be enjoyable for adults.  This is not one of those movies.  I couldn't even enjoy the songs since they were sung in such obnoxious voices.  I just can't get into puppets.  Boyfriend loves the Muppets and one of our phone calls ended quite tersely when I said I didn't.  Oh well.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Bob Hope and Steve Martin both made cameos in this film.

654. The Jerk

The Jerk
Directed by Carl Reiner

I realize I am a huge buzzkill for always panning comedies.  I have decided to embrace my status and will continue to ruin everybody's fun.

Navin Johnson is the adopted son of an African American family and doesn't realize he isn't black.  Ha.  Why are so many of these comedies intent on laughing at an extremely stupid person?  I am hesitant to bring up Jerry Lewis again, as that offended readers before (rightfully so).  But am I allowed to for this film?

I didn't even get to the main plot before I started ridiculing this film.  I think I will stop there since there isn't too much to say about this.  If you laughed, great.  We need more laughter in this world!  If you didn't, you can join me for tea at Buzzkillington Manor.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Stanley Kubrick was a huge fan of this film.

653. Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Good morning! I have a lot of movies to get through today and am actually feeling better.  Lucky for you, that means less graphic details about my recovery.  I really spoil my readers.

This is one of those movies that critics and film buffs seem to gush over, but I find to be dreadfully boring (see 2001: A Space Odyssey).  In fact, I feel like a lot of people who praise this film also think it is quite dull, but ultimately worth it.  I disagree with this; I don't exactly consider a fat Marlon Brando to be a brilliant light at the end of a three hour tunnel.

During the Vietnam War, Benjamin Willard is sent on a mission to execute an insane colonel who is commanding his own troops in Cambodia.  This film is based off on Heart of Darkness, which you could read in about a quarter of time it takes to watch this movie.

I really dislike everything about this, from the self indulgent actors to how everything looks orange.  I have seen the documentary based on the making of this film.  It seems that everybody involved became suicidal.  Maybe that is why they made the movie so boring; so that we could share their misery.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Marlon Brando did not know any of his lines, hadn't read the source material, and was extremely overweight.  He also improvised much of his dialogue.

Coppola said about this film, "My movie is not about Vietnam.  It is Vietnam."

Friday, January 15, 2016

652. Life of Brian

Life of Brian
Directed by Terry Jones

Greetings all! I am having a bit of trouble with my painkillers and by "bit of trouble" I mean I couldn't stop vomiting from them.  Hopefully, it will get under control today and I will be able to pursue my true loves: candy, movies, books, and writing.

I don't think I could be a tougher audience right now.  After all, I have several pieces of metal wedged in my leg and have a bucket for a sidekick.  Is this getting too personal?  I really can't help it.  Anyway, I will try to be as just as possible.

Brian Cohen is mistaken as a messiah and must avoid his worshipping band of followers while he attempts to escape from the Romans.  The nicest thing I can say about this was that it was somewhat more tolerable than Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I could see where every joke was headed five minutes before it was finally over, which didn't exactly make for a compelling watch.  Perhaps this is another case of comedy not really aging well, but I didn't laugh once.  And if you can't make someone who is sick, uncomfortable, and in a lot of pain laugh, you obviously have zero sense of humor.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Six cast members played 40 characters.

George Harrison helped finance the film.

Monday, January 11, 2016

651. Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs. Kramer
Directed by Robert Benton

I am getting quite sleepy as I have only had two naps today!  I do want to catch up on my blogs before I go to sleep so that I can accomplish something other than not throwing up, which is my claim to fame today.

Ted Kramer is a workaholic with a young son and an unhappy wife.  His wife moves out, leaving Ted to raise their child.  I know you are all wondering: how can these two goofballs form a father-son bond?  It can't be possible, right?  He doesn't even know how to make breakfast!

This movie is immensely frustrating, although to reveal why would be revealing spoilers.  I will say that this kid was absolutely adorable.  Child actors can be a huge hit or miss.  I'm still not over how annoying the Home Alone kid was.

There is no denying that this film is heartwarming.  It even warmed my cold, surgery heart.  Definitely worth a watch.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Meryl Streep was pregnant during filming.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

650. Being There

Being There
Directed by Hal Ashby

Perhaps I am just being cranky, since I have recently had surgery and my leg feels like Annie Wilkes went to town on it.  But there have really been a streak of bad movies lately.  I am very excited to say goodbye to the 1970s soon.

Chance is a simple minded gardener, who learns about life only through watching television.  His slow nature is mistaken for profound genius.  Sort of like the opposite of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot.  Hijinks and misunderstandings ensue.

I did not care for this at all.  It felt almost Jerry Lewis-like.  I don't like it when the main character is portrayed as mentally retarded for some cheap laughs.  It's just too upsetting to me.

I think I have succeeded as being the buzzkill of the day with this post.  Maybe I should go throw up again.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

"Life is a state of mind" is written on Peter Sellers' tombstone.

649. All That Jazz

All That Jazz
Directed by Bob Fosse

I have heard this movie compared to both 8 1/2 and Cabaret, two movies I just can't stand.  Perhaps I ruined it for myself, but I hated it as much as I expected to.

Joe Gideon is trying to work on a Broadway play while editing a Hollywood movie.  Apparently, he can't do this without having sex all the time, chain-smoking, and drugs.  What an artist.  His heart gets increasingly worse but he ignores all his symptoms.  There is nothing more frustrating to watch than someone self destructing.  Especially when there isn't even a good soundtrack to go along with it.

I just don't think I got this movie.  I really didn't understand what the tone was supposed to be.  I'm also not sure if we were supposed to sympathize with the main character or hate him.  I chose the latter.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The film was based on Bob Fosse's own experience of having a heart attack, directing Chicago on stage, and editing his film Lenny.

Stanley Kubrick apparently said this was one of the best films he has ever seen.

648. Die Blechtrommel

Die Blechtrommel
The Tin Drum
Directed by Volker Schlondorff

I am making the apology rounds on all my blogs for not posting lately.  I moved and then my long distance boyfriend came to visit me for a couple weeks.  Yesterday I got surgery that will leave me stuck in bed for several months.  At least that means lots and lots of movies!  Unfortunately, it also meant watching this film.

Today I had to take two naps and ended up vomiting once.  Now, I know most of you will blame my surgery, but honestly, I choose to point the finger at this atrocity.  Oskar is the scariest looking baby in the world. As soon as he is born he overhears that he will get a tin drum for his third birthday.  On his third birthday, he decides to stop growing and throws himself down a flight of stairs.  Now for the rest of the movie, we have to watch this bratty kid who can shatter glass with his scream.  He also has several sexual experiences that are just plain disturbing.

I generally hate films that star children and this kid was one of the most annoying children I have ever seen.  I wanted to go all Office Space on that tin drum of his.  There were quite a few images I could have happily gone without seeing.  Don't waste your time on this one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Oklahoma County tried to ban this movie because it violated their child pornography laws.  They confiscated the tapes from individuals and rental stores.  Oklahoma always has to take it too far.