Saturday, April 24, 2010

#99 The Sixth Sense - Where do I begin?

1999. dir. M. Night Shyamalan, starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams.

Seen it before? Yes, a few dozen times..

You know how this one goes right? Oh, you don't? Well, where the hell were you in 1999?

HJO plays Cole Sear a kid who is being followed by dead people who have tales to tell. They're not all mean to him, they can't see other dead people, and this makes him not so popular among his school chums. Bruce Willis plays Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a shrink who specializes in working with children...and can't understand why he can't talk to his own wife...Toni Collette is Cole's mom. She has no idea what her son is going through but is trying as best as she can to make things go as well for him as they possibly can. Olivia Williams is Willis' wife...and she seems sad...

I'll be perfectly honest with you. I didn't get it until the very end the first time sitting through this. It chilled me to the bones and I wanted to see it over and over. If you're going to see this movie for the first time I recommend not reading Sam's post or any others about this movie. Let it get under your skin. It's more enjoyable that way.

Cameo - yes, that is Mischa Barton as a young girl.
See it again? Absolutely
Own it? Sure, why not?
BTW Sam said that they were initially going to cast HJO as Harry Potter in the series before deciding to go with an all British cast...thank goodness for that...I don't think I could have sat through the movies if it were anyone other than Daniel Radcliffe...Crap! Did I just admit to that?!?!?

#98 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - sad story with a camera shot that made me dizzier than the Blair Witch Project

2007. dir Julian Schnabel, starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze. French with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

What would it be like to have your brain work perfectly well but have no other function (the ability to move or speak) available other than blinking? Watch this movie as it gives you a sad look at what happens if you a stroke and are confined to your body. Thankfully Jean-Dominuque Bauby has a team of people ready to help him communicate even if it is painstaking and through blinking.

I would go absolutely crazy if I had locked in syndrome...I would probably blink 'just kill me already'...but JDB was able to dictate an entire book! How awesome is that?!?!? I felt for his poor father and his three children. His girlfriend annoyed me. I liked the relationship he formed with his therapist. She was truly an angel to him.

It's not necessarily a tear jerker but I was pretty sad during the movie, when not completely irritated with how the director shot the film. JDB does give hope for people who have locked in syndrome...if you work hard enough you CAN communicate.

See it again? No thanks but maybe I'll change my mind in a few years.
Read the book? Yes, I think I will.

Friday, April 23, 2010

#102 Brazil: The morning found me miles away

1985. dir. Terry Gilliam, starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert DeNiro, Katharine Helmond, Kim Greist, Michael Palin.

Seen it before? No.
"I want to talk to you about ducts."
Ducts are everywhere in this movie, usually strung haphazardly through a room in a cluttered and disorganized manner. The ducts are a metaphor for the bungling yet omnipresent bureaucracy that controls every aspect life in Brazil, which is a twisted take on Orwell's 1984. The story centers around Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a low-level functionary who learns that the Ministry of Information has "deactivated" an innocent person, and tries to correct the mistake.

Katharine Helmond (you know, from Who's the Boss) plays Lowry's mother, who wears a shoe on her head and has lots of plastic surgery. Robert DeNiro is in a couple of scenes as a rogue duct repairman. Oh, and Lowry keeps going into these fantasy sequences where he has armor and angel wings, and... yeah, I don't know. There's really too much bizarre stuff going on to keep track of. This movie is sort of like Blade Runner meets Beetlejuice. If you see this movie, watch carefully, because there are lots of little jokes and oddities in the background that sneak by.

Position on the list: Bumped
Policy on bumped movies: After we finish the "current" list, we watch the new ones. As of today, that includes Avatar, The 400 Blows, The Truman Show, and Shutter Island.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

#97 Rebecca - watch out for the woman with the creepy eyes

1940. dir. Alfred Hitchcock, starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson.

Seen it before? No

Joan Fontaine plays an idealistic travel companion to a cranky old woman. Laurence Olivier plays a man with a secret who is stand offish and impulsive and ends up taking the former as his second wife. He comes from a lot of money and lives in a mansion that's more like a castle with a huge staff to fulfill every whim. In case you haven't already read Sam's post Joan Fontaine's character doesn't have a name. She is simply the SECOND Mrs. De Winter. In fact, the title character is never actually on-screen but comes to life in the deep devotion of her former staff, particularly her dear Mrs. Danvers...the woman with the creepy eyes.

I would imagine that it must be difficult to be a second wife. Especially if the first wife died mysteriously. The great thing about a Hitchcock film is that you want to know the who, the what, the where, the why, and the how, and so regardless of the characters you do continue to watch. It's a good movie. You want to root for Joan Fontaine and you get totally creeped out by'll see.

Final tidbit...cousin relations ARE incestuous right?
See it again? Yes
Own it? I don't know, is it still available?

#96 Heat - whoa, is that Val Kilmer?

1995. dir. Michael Mann, starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, Jon Voight.

Seen it before? No.

I almost didn't understand this movie but I think I got the gist of it. DeNiro is a thief. Pacino is a cop who is after him. They have a relationship that's supposed to be if one needs the other in order to be who he is...DEEP.

Pacino's character tells DeNiro if he sees him again he'll have no choice but to kill him. Pacino's cops set DeNiro up to meet a guy who betrayed him...see? I told you it was confusing. He gets there to off the guy, does it, and without being caught...great job coppers! Oh, and DeNiro is going out with Judging Amy who is somehow putting up with his lies and the fact that he is clearly disturbed and up to no good.

In other news Val Kilmer is one of DeNiro's associates. He's married to Ashley Judd who is none-too-thrilled with his behavior (absenteeism more like). DeNiro does the Goodfellas thing and smooths things over with her to stay with Kilmer. A young Natalie Portman is Pacino's step-daughter and tries to kill herself. Pacino's relationship with her mother is strained because she doesn't seem to get that he's a cop and sometimes he can't tell her what is going on otherwise he'll be compromising his investigations.

Feeling toward the movie - not planning on seeing it again
Own it? NO

#95 The Seventh Seal - this is so confusing

1957. dir. Ingmar Bergman, starring Max von Sydow, Bengt Ekerot, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe. Swedish with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

So much so that I'm going to have to watch it again...keep tuning in for my real review...for now all I can say is that I know Death is a character and it's really hard to tell "reality" from "fiction" if that makes any sense.

#94 M - So there IS honor among thugs...

1931. dir. Fritz Lang, starring Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut. German with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

Peter Lorre is creepy and in this movie it suits him to a T. He is a child murderer who is on the loose and the cops and the bad guys are both after him. Wait, the bad guys are after him? You read right. They are tired of the frequent raids on their endeavors and are, in general, disgusted that they are being associated with someone who would murder they set up a network of street beggars to help find the guy.

I was rather impressed with the splicing of the meeting of the police and the meeting of the crime bosses. It was pretty entertaining. The last major scene with the criminals was pretty entertaining too. I don't want to say too much because I really do think you should watch this movie but I will share my favorite interaction during that scene... the lead "prosecutor" for the bad guys gets questioned by the lead "defense" attorney -
"defense attorney": "My learned colleague who just spoke...who is, if I'm not mistaken, wanted by the police on three counts of manslaughter..."
"Lead prosecutor": "That's irrelevant here."

See it again? Sure
Own it? Why not?
Moral of the story - watch your kids...don't let them just wander off and make sure you teach them to be wary of strangers!
To Sam - I feel like I'm writing f*ing reading records for my Children's Lit course first semester....I HATED writing READING RECORDS!!!!

#93 Bonnie And Clyde - Watching this ruins Clyde for me forever

1967. dir. Arthur Penn, starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael Pollard.

Seen it before? No.

Warren Beatty is a very attractive man. Faye Dunaway is a very attractive woman. And the lives of the people they portrayed on-screen were interesting a very weird way. Who knew (unless you studied up on Bonnie Parker) that Bonnie wrote poetry? I just remember that there was the famous (or infamous) photo of her straddling a car hood and holding the gun. Who knew that Clyde was practically asexual in that he was not really good with intimacy and barely satisfied Bonnie? I certainly didn't.

The story was interesting. All I knew was that Bonnie and Clyde were bank robbers and they were a couple. Seeing it come to life in a way that was moderately violent (although I am sure that in the late sixties this was terribly controversial) was interesting. Has Gene Hackman ALWAYS been that old? And the funniest part is that if Bonnie and Clyde were redone today Gene Hackman's character would be portrayed by John C. Riley I am sure of it!

I wouldn't not watch it again but I wouldn't own it. I know Sam thinks Warren Beatty is a wasted talent and I am inclined to agree. Reds is on Netflix On Demand so I'm going to see if I have time to watch 3 hours and 15 minutes worth of one of Warren Beatty's best work.

#101 Paths Of Glory: I'm not afraid of dying tomorrow, only of getting killed

1957. dir Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Adolphe Menjou.

Seen it before? No.

Kirk Douglas plays Col. Dax, a French army officer in World War I. The commanding officers order a suicidal attack on a German fortification, which fails, so they decide to court-martial and execute three randomly selected soldiers for cowardice. Dax is outraged by the arbitrary, unfair punishment, so he takes up the defense of the three soldiers.

There really aren't a whole lot of World War I movies, I suppose because it was so horrible, and there were no clear good guys or bad guys. This movie was banned in France, and you can see why; they make the generals out to be totally evil and sadistic. Of course that doesn't mean it was unrealistic.

Position on the list: 49
The title: From Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard":
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th'inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

#100 Star Trek: Prepare the red matter

2009. dir. J.J. Abrams, starring Christopher Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana.

Seen it before? Yes.

This is J.J. Abram's "re-boot" of the Star Trek movies, which had gotten increasingly low-budget and shitty. Good move starting over, as the Next Generation cast had been getting increasingly old and paunchy. This one is shiny and fun. And very shiny. J.J. Abrams sure does love that artificial lens flare effect. Hope nobody tells him about the star wipe.

I think I would be pissed off about this movie if I was a Trekkie. OK, so Nero goes back in time through a black hole, and ends up completely rewriting the history of Star Trek. Oddly, pretty much everything ends up as the status quo, with Kirk as the captain, Spock as first officer, etc. But doesn't this mean nothing from Star Trek: The Original Series, or Star Trek: the Next Generation, or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Star Trek: Voyager, or Star Trek: Special Victims Unit actually happened? Like, all the time people spent watching those shows was wasted?

And gosh, wasn't it lucky that Kirk got marooned on a planet that not only had Spock Prime on it, but the only engineer in the galaxy who could figure out trans-warp beaming? Wasn't that convenient? Oh, and at the end of the movie, they blow up all of the Red matter and create a black hole, and Nero gets sucked into it. So wouldn't that make him go back in time again? I mean, that's what happened the first time...

Position on the list: 159
Dammit, Jim: I'm a doctor. They did a great job of capturing everyone's catch phrases. She canna take much more!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

#92 Double Indemnity - I HATE how this guy says BABY!!!

1944. dir. Billy Wilder, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson.

Seen it before? No.

See, the thing is, Fred MacMurray was in the Apartment and I think one of his trade marks in his movies is saying "Baby" to women in a tone that sounds so incredibly condescending...I digress...

Walter Neff is an insurance salesman who falls in lust with the wife of one of his company's clients. They plot the man's murder in order to get double what she would if he were killed any other way. They carry out their plan almost perfectly but Neff's supervisor has a keen sense for things that are not on the up and up and he figures out something is wrong with the death. Chaos ensues.

I'll be honest, I stayed up for 95% of the was late into the night and I just could do it. I can't stand Fred MacMurray using the word "baby." It is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Come to think of it I couldn't stand Barbara Stanwyck either. Her character was weak and mean spirited and whiny. Lovely way to portray women...really. The daughter/step-daughter was cute but she was weak too. Being treated badly is not a good thing isn't now and it wasn't back then.

So, see this movie again? probably just the last five or ten minutes to see what happened...
but in reality I saw enough!

#91 Ben-Hur - there's a whole lot of sexual tension going on...

1959. dir. William Wyler, starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd.

Seen it before? No.

Sam wanted to count this as his yearly "church" service in honor of Easter but we ended up watching it a bit after Easter due to my niece and nephew staying longer to play video games. After watching the movie I have decided that it does not contain enough of Jesus' story despite "Jesus" appearing in the movie...

Judah Ben-Hur is a prince who happens to be Jewish. His long time friend Messala is a Roman who, in order to move up the ranks and show his ability to command, arrests Ben-Hur to make an example of him when a higher ranking Roman gets pegged by a tile which fell from the Hur compound. Somehow Ben-Hur ends up a slave and saves yet another higher ranking Roman who adopts him as his heir. A chariot sponsor admires how Ben-Hur handles his horses and hires him to compete in a chariot of his competitors? That's right, Messala...

Where does Jesus fit into all of this? At the beginning there is a census that requires everyone to go back to their place of origin...completely improbable today...I'd have to go back to Quezon City, Sam would have to go to Ravenna, OH and so someone would have to take Daniel to Arlington Heights...I digress, anyhow, Mary and Joseph are heading to Nazareth to partake in the census and she is pregnant. Then we see Jesus (the back of his head anyway), as Ben-Hur is dying of thirst and is the only one of the slaves who is forbidden water, putting a ladle to Ben-Hur's mouth. When BH finally rises he looks in what I can only imagine is supposed to be awe (though it's Charlton Heston so you can probably figure out what his face looks like acting awe)...Jesus is referred to in later parts of the movie as a healer and preacher then gets crucified at the end (come on that is absolutely NOT a spoiler since most people know that's what happens to him according to the Bible).

There are a bunch of sub plots...A strange sexual vibe between BH and Messala. BH hits on his slave girl (inherited from his father) who he gives permission to marry another. BH's mother and sister get imprisoned and end up lepers who miraculously become healed after meeting Jesus while he is carrying his cross to his death.

It's a good story despite how long it goes on for. The first 6 minutes or so were excruciating...not because the score was bad, on the contrary it was actually quite good, but due to the fact that there was nothing going on but music...sounds dumb coming from me, a fan of classical and orchestral pieces in general but I knew the movie was over three hours long and I was impatient to be done with it so no action in the first 6 minutes or so of the movie playing without actors on screen got me antsy. The chariot scene was not what I thought it would be seeing as my only memories of Ben-Hur from when I was a kid involved ONLY the chariot race and I was disappointed (kind of) that the chariot race was not the main crux of the movie...ce'st la vie.

See it again? Sure, I'm sure someday I'll sit through it when Daniel watches it in a few years.
Own it? I'll buy it when the movie industry decides that they are making the last copies of the movie available for sale.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#99 The Sixth Sense: They don't have meetings about rainbows

1999. dir. M. Night Shyamalan, starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams.

Seen it before? Yes.

It's hard, for some of these, to think of anything to say. Everyone knows this movie: The little kid sees dead people. They don't know that they're dead. They only see what they want to see. Bruce Willis is dead. Oops, spoiler.

This movie is better than I remember, mostly because I've gotten so used to M. Night Shyamalan's movies sucking that I forgot that he was a pretty interesting filmmaker once. I think his main weakness is as a writer; once he ran out of ideas, his films have gotten increasingly ridiculous. (I would say starting with the last 10 minutes of Signs. Water kills the aliens? Are you kidding me!?) But this one was good, even if you already know the twist is coming. And really, wasn't it pretty obvious in retrospect? The movie certainly telegraphs it enough.

Position on the list: 127
I think they messed up: Malcolm's wife makes eye contact with him at one point in the restaurant scene. Kind of a cheat if you ask me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

#98 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: E, S, A, R, I, N, T...

2007. dir Julian Schnabel, starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze. French with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

This is the sad tale of Jean-Dominque Bauby, a magazine editor who had a stroke one day, and woke up 3 weeks later with his mind intact, but everything else paralyzed except one eye. Thus he was able to communicate using a series of blinks: an aide would read the alphabet in order of letter frequency, and he would blink when she got to the letter he wanted. That doesn't seem like a very intelligent system. He dictated an entire book this way at about 0.5 WPM.

The movie is a dramatization of the writing of the book, interspersed with flashbacks and fantasy sequences. Much of it is shown in blurry tilted POV shots, I guess to make you empathize with Bauby's condition. Bauby is played by Mathieu Amalric, best known to American audiences as the bad guy in the Bond movie Quantum Of Solace. (side note: That movie sucked. His evil plan was to raise the price of water in Bolivia? Who the hell cares? I ask for one simple thing in my Bond movies, and that is to have a death satellite with a frickin laser beam attached.)

Position on the list: 206
In case I ever get "locked-in syndrome": I have a better plan. Write up a grid of letters like this:
C M V #
I'll blink the row number, then the column number. So "R" would be two blinks, then four blinks. OK? Seems like this would be quicker than reading the entire damn alphabet over and over.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

#97 Rebecca: I've opened a window for you

1940. dir. Alfred Hitchcock, starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson.

Max De Winter (Laurence Olivier) is a wealthy aristocrat with a recently dead wife named Rebecca. He's on vacation in Monte Carlo and he meets a young woman (Joan Fontaine, whose character is never given a name) who he impulsively decides to marry.

So he brings her back to "Manderley", his huge estate. The house is killer huge and has a small army of servants, most of whom immediately disapprove of the new Mrs. De Winter. The one who disapproves the most is the head housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) who keeps shooting icy death stares and poor whatever-her-name-is. It's a wonderful performance, and Hitchcock frames her so as to emphasize how much she unnerves Mrs. De Winter.

It's amazing how richly developed the character of Rebecca is, considering she's completely absent from the movie. Joan Fontaine's mousy, anxious performance was a result of enforced Method acting... apparently Hitchcock told her that everyone on the set hated her. Hitchcock was a jerk.

Position on the list: 97
Hitchcock's cameo: I completely missed it. Oops

#90 Goodfellas - just wait til I finish re-watching this...

1990. dir. Martin Scorsese, starring Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino.

Seen it before? Several times - and each time I watch it it gets better...

I could probably write my review now but I'll rewatch it so that it's fresh...ha ha!

It is now April 25th meaning I watched Goodfellas for the blog three days ago. I must say that every time I watch it the movie keeps getting better! Sam's right. It is super quotable. And I don't even mind the violence...I mean, come on, it's a gangster movie. If there were no violence I would question why the movie was made in the first place. My problem lies with the character Tommy played by Joe Pesci. Does he really swear that much? It's no wonder he doesn't have a girlfriend or a wife. I would never date someone who swore that much! And let me just say that I totally saw his demise coming. Served him right for f*ing with a made guy!

My favorite scenes were the straight shot of Henry and Karen's first date from start to finish. How smooth was that!?!? "What do you do?" "I work in construction." Um, yeah right. The scene where the guys are in jail and making Sunday supper...any man who can shave garlic thinly with a razor is supremely talented...then again, where did he learn to do that? How cute was Tommy's mother making the guys dinner at three in the morning? If Daniel every pulled that I'd whack him! The wedding scene with all the Peters and Pauls and all the envelopes with the Benjamins! CLASSY! And then there's the scene Sam role-plays with me regardless of whether or not I plan on going shopping...Karen asks Henry for money to go shopping. Henry asks, "How much?" Karen holds up her thumb and forefinger about two inches apart and says, "This much." HA HA HA HA HA!

I recommend you watch it with an open mind. Yes, there is violence...again, it's a GANGSTER movie! But if you can withstand that it really is a great movie and even better than that Kevin Costner film that won Best Picture in 1990.

See it again? Yes
Own it? Already do
Last comment - it took me FOREVER to write this blog! I wrote it last night (4/24) but the cable modem died and didn't save my draft! GAH!