It's a wonderful life (1946)

"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary. Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?"

While It's a wonderful Life ranks among the most sugary sweet films ever made (I mean really, at the end of the film everyone stands around singing while an angel gets its wings), it is still an enjoyable film, particularly around the holidays when everyone is feeling a little sappy anyway.

The first half of the film starts out strong. We really get to see George Bailey's character and how he was molded into the person that he is today. Yes, the story is a bit cliche, especially with the big evil banker man, but it is always interesting and relevant. I especially enjoyed the drug store scene where he saved a little boy from being poisoned, it exposes some real human flaws and emotions in some of the stories characters. Of course this entire segment is just wrought with sexual innuendo in a very screwball type way. If the viewer is a little bit on their toes (and for someone of the modern age you don't even have to try too hard) you will catch some funny stuff.

I think that my big complaint with the film is the second half (actually more like the last fourth) of the film. This is the segment that really defined this film. One of the most spoofed concepts in entertainment history, the emotional climax of everything that we have seen so far. To me though, it felt incredibly rushed. George didn't even really see all that much of the town, it's almost like the film-makers suddenly realized that they were running out of time and threw this part in very quickly. I did enjoy however that what got George to change his mind was not the fact that his friends didn't have jobs, or that his town had been bought by Potter, or even that main street had been turned into a row of strip clubs and brothels. No, it was because his wife was an old maid who worked at a library. Now, surely they could have thought if a worse fate than this, and yes I realize that it is 1946 and marriage is kind of a big deal but really? Being a younger middle aged woman who isn't married is the worst they could do?

Anyway, in the end the real message of the film was, "to be happy with what you have." This, of course, is a great idea and I fully endorse that message. I couldn't help but wonder, however, if the subtext was more like "it's ok to not pursue your dreams, we should probably be home making babies anyway." In the end, George never really did get what he wanted. He didn't go to school or travel the world, or build bridges and I think that he had a valid reason for complaint. The film, however, disputes that and does in the end send the message that it's ok to settle.

Overall, this is an incredibly cheesetastic film but it is a classic and I guess that I just happen to like it. And even though that's not at all how tax fraud cases work, at least Potter didn't come in singing Christmas carols and double fisting ringing bells.


Magnolia (1999)

It is safe to say that the mere thought of having to sit through Magnolia again brought me a noticeable amount of physical pain. It had been five years since the last time I saw it and let me assure you, it was not long enough. So when it got picked as one of the December movies I decided that this time I would come prepared. Armed with a notebook, a pen, and an amount of beer that is illegal in most countries, I decided to give Magnolia the recognition it deserves. So without further ado, I present you with:

The Top 101 Reasons Why I hate Magnolia
(in chronological order)

1. The narrator sounds like a bitch.
2. Using flames as a transition is never ok.
3. The beginning is a string of dis proven urban legends.
4. Terrible covers of good songs.
5. The fact that the opening of the movie is so promising.
6. Oh yeah, and it's three hours long.
7. Julianne Moore.
8. There are too many bad hairstyles.
9. Silly, cartoon-like film making techniques.
10. Ok, this is going somewhere right?
11. Look Julianne Moore, stuttering does not mean that you are being emotional.
12. F.Y.I. people don't really speak in well thought out monologues about the meaning of life.
13. Why are there so many dogs?
14. Scientology blows.
15. Apparently they forgot about pacing during the making of this film.
16. Seriously though, Tom Cruise's hair frightens me.
17. References to bad 80's songs.
18. Ugly people having sex = boo!
19. Do you want to call me a whore?
20. Great actors must have been forced into this film at gunpoint.
21. They really enjoy exploiting black people.
22. Stop being so whack.
23. Why would they use minuet in G in such a shitty movie?
24. Over the shoulder tracking shots.
25. Way to stereotype things and shit.
26. Is there anything worse than stuffing a sock into your whitey tighties?
27. Since when were braces sexy?
28. Seriously I got a call about a disturbance. Really? Ok!
29. Don't answer my question with a question.
30. Ok cool, the movie is building to something, right?
31. Circle pan to different people makes me want to throw up in my shoes.
32. It's cool, you didn't hear it the first time, I'll say it again.
33. Oh well obviously any woman would be attracted to Tom Cruise in a half ponytail.
34. Why would you fucking ask me about my life while I am making my voice a higher pitch?
35. Phillip Seymore Hoffman references "that scene," because "it's true."
36. Why are they playing Carmen now?
37. Claudia is very short.
38. Ok, dogs tripping is fun.
39. Wait a minute I thought that Magnolia was supposed to be good. Is that a coincidence?
40. Someone should really let Stanley pee.
41. Meeeh Weeh Mehhhlee Leelump (I can't say my line because I'm too busy coughing).
42. The way they shoot William H. Macey out of focus and act like it's deep.
43. Tom Cruise is a flying Samurai.
44. Ambient noises = DEEP = good.
45. Rain is seriously about emotions and things.
46. Oh cool, this movie is building towards an end again.
47. Shut the fuck up now please.
48. Honestly though, I would piss myself for cash.
49. Sure, I always do coke when cops are over.
50. Do it live!!! We'll do it live!!!
51. Shake your kid whenever you get the chance.
52. Really, that's not what TMJ sounds like.
53. I'm covered in blue light, it reflects my inner self/emotions/vomit.
54. Sometimes I rest my head against the door to make sure it's still cold.
55. I'm quietly judging you.
56. Teacher whyeeeeee?
57. "That's the first time I've been right." This movie must be ending soon.
58. I have never said something so profound directly before vomiting.
59. If I wear a lot of makeup can I be pretty like everyone else?
60. Oh wait, there is another hour, but...why?
61. If I stand with only my crotch in the shot it would be symbolic right?
62. Dogs and shit.
63. Yeah...children don't actually think that stuff.
64. Reciting bible verses makes me feel special.
65. My reflection in the window does too.
66. If it al ties together now, everything will be ok.
67. Oh shit! Half ponytail!
68. Annnnd Tom Cruise just stopped being mildly interesting.
69. Wear a bra! Seriously.
70. Is this normal? Is this ok?
71. What is even happening?
72. We no longer feel a need for dialog apparently.
73. I really thought that this was building towards an ending.
75. Being a man = putting your dick into things.
76. Smoking while hooked up to oxygen is only the best way to go out.
77. When you admit your sins on your death bed, it's all good.
78. Goddamn!
79. I regret things.
80. Chasing pills with booze is obviously part of the prescription.
81. Everyone is crying.
82. I light candles when I'm sad.
83. Someone is singing to the music.
84. Oh shit someone else started.
85. Are you fucking kidding me?!?!
86. Dying man participating in a sing along = FAIL!
87. Panning out makes emotional stuff.
88. Dogs and morphine and dogs and morphine.
89. That Bull Mastiff just broke the fourth wall.
90. Oh yeah, of course the black kid would know what to do in the event of a drug overdose.
91. When ice cubes clink, things are made clear.
92. Plot?
93. I should really start to carry retractable keys on my belt.
94. Whining party!
95. Tight focus! Leave half of the scene blurry, it would be muddled like the characters soul.
96. She is so obviously addicted to coke, why can you not see that?
97. Jarring!
98. Again, if my voice gets really high, you should know better.
99. I shake and breathe rapidly, I think that means I love you.
100. FROGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
101. Oh, so this didn't go anywhere.


Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Massacres, mutiny, and maggots! Battleship Potemkin has it all!

Communist propaganda has never been this fun! Or has it?

See death defying baby stunts! Grown men unable to escape a tarp! And did we mention more maggots than you can handle?!?!

Who needs sound when you have Russians?

It offers something that modern films cant! Accesibility through the public domain!

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wander when this film is possibly going to end. All in Battleship Potemkin!

(Warning, this film does not, nor has it ever contined Pokemon...although it would be much cooler if it did.)


The Graduate (1967)

I love The Graduate. Really, it is because of a lot of things, not the least of which is the music. So I decided to make a musical tribute review in the style of Simon and Garfunkel.

Just want to say Mrs. Robinson
I love this movie more than you will know (woah oh oh)
God bless the cinematographer, Mr. Surtees
His shots and transitions always made a show (ohohoh)

The first half of the film was entertaining all the while
Watching Ben go find himself
It is a light and funny start that is surprisingly wise
He graduated and all he does is sit at home

Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson
She stole the first half of the film away (hey hey hey)
And Dustin Hoffman was Mr. Braddock
He was likable even though he was a stalker (ohohoh)

In the second half of the film the story slowed down for a while
While Ben was following Elane
It was a great dynamic at first but it started to get old
But just in time Mr. Robinson came, and it picked up again

And I love the story Calder Willingham
Imaginative and generally relevant (ohohoh)
Although the love story was unbelieveable
It's just that this is Hollywood I suppose (woahohoh)

The church scene at the end is as iconic as can be
Big Ben's last desperate attempt
It's so romantic but the family cannot see
So they break out in a church fight

And there you are Mrs. Robinson
You learned an old lesson the hard way (hey hey hey)
Don't tell someone not to do something fun
Because that is exactly what they will do (ooh ooh ooh)


Vampyr 1932

Vampyr is a very difficult movie to rate. It is, of course, severely dated and it is really almost impossible for someone with modern movie watching sensibilities to really get caught up in this film. Having said that, there were some very interesting ideas in it and I can appreciate some parts.

I really enjoyed the idea of the shadows that were evil helpers to the Vampire. It was an interesting concept and one that I had never been introduced to before. The scene where the shadows were ballroom dancing was really neat and mildly creepy. It also must have been a fairly innovative technique for that time to produce these bodyless shadows on screen. I also thought that the scene where they are carrying the main character outside in a coffin was very well done. The camera cuts from inside the coffin where Allan Gray lies motionless and wide eyed and the viewer is given the sneaking suspicion that he can in fact see out through the window in the top. This is confirmed when the camera cuts to a view from inside the coffin looking up at what is happening. It is an unsettling sequence that forces the viewer to watch as someone carries them to their grave.

Having said that, it was just very difficult to adjust to the pacing of this film. It didn't really capture me in any way and was very confusing the entire time. I'm still really not sure exactly what happened. I have enjoyed other films from this era and even older but this one was just not my favorite.


Requiem for a Dream 2000

"Juice by Sarah, juice by Sarah, juice by Sarah oh, Sarah's got juice."

"Requiem for a Dream" is an electrically charged hour and a half full of stunning visuals, captivating story, and innovative film making techniques. The film attempts to make the viewers feel that they too are experiencing these drugs along with the characters. At times it works wonderfully, at times it fails, but it is always interesting and unique.

The entire world of the film is distorted. The colors are off or sometimes just plain wrong. The noises are not quite right, at times too loud, at times too quiet, and at times just the wrong sound. And the relationships suffer from a certain disconnect felt not only through the characters themselves but through the filming techniques as well. At times, two characters having a conversation next to each other are split into two seperate screens to visually represent the gap between them. All of these factors add up to make the viewer feel an underlying sense of discomfort the entire time. This sense of discomfort becomes heightened as the film goes on and the word begins to shift into the blatantly surreal.

This film has one of the best arc's I have ever seen. It begins with a simple domestic dispute and ends with lives being absolutely ripped apart and shattered and the viewer feels every second of it. Apart from the film making techniques, the music helps to fuel this on tremendously. The main theme is immediately recognizable and has been used in everything from commercials to sports videos over the years which proves its staying power. It too is a mix of the familiar with the string instruments and the bizarre with the added vocal tracks and odd sound effects. This tells the viewer from the beginning that noting in this world is right and it will probably not change over the course of the film.

All of the acting was really spot on and produced some of the biggest snubs in Academy award history. The actors really bought into their roles and while many of them went through a great physical transformation throughout the film, you could see the internal changes that happened almost etched into the lines of their face.

If there were to be a top ten list of movies that did not end well, "Requiem for a Dream" would probably be pretty high up. The film makers had a very clear message and they made sure that the audience was told over and over again. Overall, I think that this film worked and I always enjoy when people take a risk and try something new even if I don't enjoy every little technique they use.