Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#127 Nights of Cabiria: She's a countess

1957. dir. Frederico Fellini, starring Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi. Italian with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

Sometimes I think this whole project is ill-advised. Some of these movies are clearly meant to be enjoyed and savored like fine wine, and here we are gulping them down like a freshman playing Century Club.

Oh well, too late to stop now... on to Nights of Cabiria, starring Giulietta Masina as the titular Cabiria. She's a hooker, living in Rome with all of her hatchet-faced hooker friends, and she has various misadventures. In the first scene in the movie, her boyfriend shoves her into a river to steal her money. This pretty much sets the tone.

It's got kind of a Random Events Plot, but it's worth seeing for Masina's performance. She reminds me of Lucille Ball, or Charlie Chaplin.

Position on the list: 194
For those of you who did not attend college in the Midwest: It's a drinking game in which you attempt to drink 100 shots of beer (or cider) in 100 minutes. Not recommended.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#126 High Noon: Do not forsake me O my darling

1952. dir. Fred Zinnemann, starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges.

Seen it before? No.

Gary Cooper plays Marshal Will Kane, who retires to marry nagging wet blanket Grace Kelly, who is like 30 years younger than him, but whatever. But on the day of his retirement/marriage, this criminal that he helped convict has gotten out of prison on a technicality, and is headed back to town on the noon train to get revenge on Kane. Kane tries to put together a posse to defend himself, but nobody is willing to help because they all suck.

The movie is shot in real time, sort of; you can watch the clocks in the background tick closer to 12 noon. (I think they stole that idea for a Johnny Depp movie a few years ago.) (EDIT: Yep. They did.) John Wayne hated it, because he thought it was un-American, somehow? He thought it was a metaphor for the HUAC and the blacklist, which, yeah, maybe, but you really have to strain to see it that way.

Position on the list: 127
Number of times Bill Clinton watched this movie while he was president: 17

#125 Spartacus: I fought fire with oil

1960. dir. Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov.

Seen it before? Some of it. We watched it in World History class and Mr. Paris kept fast-forwarding the non-educational parts, i.e. most of it. So I probably saw 1/3 of this before.

Another big, 3-hour Roman epic. This came out a year after Ben-Hur and is comparable in scope and subject matter, so I guess comparisons are inevitable...

Protagonist: Kirk Douglas vs. Charlton Heston. These guys basically delivered the same performance, so it's a tie

Villain: Laurence Olivier vs. Stephen Boyd. Oh, this one is easy. Olivier by a mile.

Tacked-on love interest: Jean Simmons vs. Haya Harareet. I honestly don't remember anything about Harareet's performance. In six weeks, I don't think I'll remember Simmons either. Tie!

Score: Alex North vs. Miklos Rosza. North's work was okay, but Rosza is the clear winner here.

Gay subtext: The "snails and oysters" scene in Spartacus is gayer than anything in Ben-Hur, but not by much.

Big cool action scenes: Ben-Hur had the naval battle and the chariot race, both of which top anything here.

Oscars: Ben-Hur wins 11-4 in that department.

Position on the list: 241
Ben-Hur's position on the list: 142