Gone With the wind (1939)

This movie set on my shelf still wrapped in its shiny red Netflix envelope, I am embarrassed to say, for several months. I was not looking forward to the prospect of watching a four hour movie that had once been described to me as a "love epic." It was only after the final credits rolled that I was delighted to find that this claim was completely erroneous. 

In fact, I had enjoyed it, a lot. But when faced with the prospect of having to watch it yet again in a span of less than a year, I was equally unexcited. Much the my amazement though, I liked it even better on the second viewing. 

Apart from the fact that I appreciated all of the antebellum, civil war, the south will rise again references (being from the south and having been dragged to my share of hilarious civil war museums), I was consistently entertained for four hours. They managed to create one of the best movie heroes of all time in Rhett Butler. He is wonderful because he is flawed and his flaws are happily flaunted for the audience. They also managed to create one of the biggest bitches of all time, Scarlet of course. They managed to transform her character over time from just a simple spoiled brat to a truly malicious woman but yet you still manage to sympathize with her at points. 

Overall, I loved this film and surprisingly, I love it more every time I see it. I am so often confronted by films that are "classics" but end up being just total shit. Thankfully, there are exceptions to every rule. 


Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)

I have been artfully avoiding this film at all costs throughout the years but when I saw that I would finally have to face my fears (of a shitty movie that is) and watch AI, I decided to give it a chance. From the moment I saw the trailer light up the screen (in front of a far better film I'm sure) I remember uttering the words, "there is no way anyone is ever going to make me watch that crap." Even so, I came in with an open mind. Hey I love the genre right? And it did make the list of 1001 movie to see before you die...there must be something to that. 


I'm sure that you can tell by the implied silence of my ellipses that I was wrong...so wrong. I gave the film a chance though, even through when the mom abandoned him in the forest. I gave it a chance through Hailey Joel Osment staring blankly into the camera and at the other actors just like every bad robot cliche ever put to screen. I gave it a chance even when he was activated and continued to stare impassively, but only this time he could say mommy. I even gave it a chance when for no reason we started watching an entirely different story about sex robots (another painful cliche). I, however, could no longer give it a chance when Gigilo Joe did a jig while walking on water for absolutely no reason and then everyone just continued on their marry way. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? Seriously, what was that all about? It's one of those screen moments that just makes you embarrassed for everyone involved, including yourself. 

After that it was all down hill, that is if the film had ever made it to the top of any kind of hill. We sat through two more semi-related but unnecessary stories, a ton of things stolen from Asimov and then done poorly, and a little bit of symbolism as Hailey Joel finally had that dopey, glassy look literally frozen onto his face. Way to go Speildy. 

Overall, these were very few redeeming qualities to this film. I thought that the robot rodeo scene was mildly interesting at the beginning but it quickly devolved into that one angry crowd scene where they throw things at the bad guy. In the end, it just feels like they took a group of tired sci-fi/robot ideas and spliced them together and then pumped an absurd amount of money into them just for good measure. I can see how this film could appeal to people who would generally rather watch a good drama then see robots trying to cope with their human counterparts. For those of us who have watched a lot of sci-fi though, this film just felt tired.


All the President's Men (1976)

I think that all of my dreams were realized last week when I found out that there was a film in which I got to watch Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman battle it out for most feathery beautiful feathered man hair. Excellent. Apart from that, oh yeah it was a good film too even if I did have to pause it a few times and ask my resident modern American history buff what was going on.
I happen to really enjoy this genera of film as the closest thing that I could really liken it to would be Good Night and Good Luck. Even if I'm not always intimately up to date on the history I still find it enjoyable. Having said that, I realize that this movie was made not too long after Watergate and because of all of the knowledge that they presume you have the movie does feel a bit dated. I didn't find it too distracting until the ending when they opted to just breeze over the part where the investigation led up to the white house. I was a bit befuddles by that.

The acting was, of course, exceptional. I mean what do you expect with the kind of cast that they assembled. I spent the middle of the film trying to picture Ben Bradlee donning western gear and jumping on a horse (I love Jason Robards). I thought that the film was put together quite nicely too. It was suspenseful when it needed to be and the pacing was great. Overall, it left you with an appropriate sickening feeling that should accompany the mention of the Watergate scandal. I could have used with a bit less name dropping and overall ambiguity but I did really enjoy watching this movie.

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)

I first saw this movie on cable TV when I was fifteen. Despite the hours of ultra-repetitive commercials that I was subjected to and the fact that it aired pretty late, I was hooked. I'll never forget the utterances of sheer agony and bewilderment that came from my mouth when the credits rolled as my Dad laughed knowingly behind me.
This film can only be described as a psychedelic sci-fi ballet. Every moment is beautifully choreographed and painstakingly wrought. Stanley Kubrick's use of music is, of course, the things that legends are made of. It is a study in the beauty of contrast and an explanation of how to represent themes without even saying a word. 
I love that the film starts out as any good film should, at the beginning...the very beginning. We then get to see where millions of years of evolution has left our species. The acting was subtle and understated and provided a great foil upon which the viewer can truly appreciate the world created for them. 
HAL 9000 is one of the greatest characters ever written, hands down. Who knew that a single red light bulb could be so intimidating and interesting. The other characters were all fairly stereotypical, the shady politician, the all-American astronaut, and uh, monkeys. They were there to show that even though we have evolved so much, even though technologies have increased beyond any one's wildest dreams, we still fit the basic human molds.
Honestly, I have no idea what happened in the end or what the hell was up with those obelisks. Really though, I don't care to know. My only complant is the utter contempt in this film for any kind of pacing. I know that often times, yes, that was the point, but it did get tedious after a while. In the end though, the movie is a wonderful trip and even though I don't quite understand it, I think that it is just fine that way. 

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

To be honest, I watched this film exactly one week ago and I am having problems remembering really anything about this film. It was truly that forgettable. I do remember that one of the people that I was watching it with left after we had all assumed that it was nearly over but we found out that we were only halfway through. She made the right decision.

Apart from the hilariously bad acting and dialog that came from Dix and the fact that Doll had to scream "Dix!" in the middle of a field four or five times, this film was pretty damn dull. The writing was cheesy and uninspired, the characters were largely predictable, and the story was stale. Overall, I just don't know why the film was made. 

I did think that the characters were at least interesting. Their personal stories and psyches were fairly unique but just sticking some interesting people in a room together is certainly not enough to create an inspiring and entertaining film. 

In the end, I have no idea why this film is so revered. It was a chore to watch. 


Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Having been a long time fan of the re-make of this film (the cheesy good one, not the 3 hour long one) I relished the opportunity I finally had to actually watch the original. I have to say that it did not disappoint either. It was a good two hours of swash-buckling, high seas, mutinous adventure even if it did go on a hair too long for my taste. 

One of the things that I was really impressed by was the placement of humor throughout the film. It was genuinely funny! I especially loved the character of Smith who was a much appreciated and well placed comic relief. Even during some of the more heavy moments of the film (like when they were whipping the dead man) they managed to keep it rather light with a little bit of humor and not drag the audience down too far.

Also, Bligh was a totally scary motherfucker! He did a great job and I think that I may have nightmares about him. Even more than that though, at the end, he managed to subtly break down a bit and make his character seem more vulnerable when the head of the military court disapproved of his methods. Clark Gable on the other hand was, you know, himself. He didn't give a mind blowing performance or anything but he was good enough. 

Overall, I think that this was an interesting story, a good cast of actors, and an overall well crafted film. Again, it went on a little too long for my taste but I could see the reasons for it. I would recommend Mutiny on the Bounty to anyone who would like a high seas adventure and doesn't mind getting a little seasick. 


The Third Man (1949)

While I appreciated the story and much of the film making in The Third Man, ultimately it didn't end up doing anything for me. I found the character of Holly Martins to be meddlesome and annoying, the story, while good, never felt very suspenseful or attention grabbing, and the ending revealed nothing new and certainly nothing that would save the story from being mostly boring.

I guess that maybe it was the point and I am missing something entirely but most of the film I was just annoyed every time Holly Martins spoke. He was out of place, clueless, and was trying to act like a detective when in reality he was just a marginal suspense writer. The idea just never paid off for me. Especially the fact that they never managed to explain why he was actually there. It seemed like they were building up towards something more interesting than "he knew a guy who wanted to give him a job."

They were never really able to build up any suspense in the story either. Until you find out that Harry Lime is alive, it is never hinted at or suggested, he just shows up suddenly. From there on, everything just goes according to plan. They find that he has been using the sewer system to escape, Holly meets him with little to no trouble, there is no big master plan or bigger idea present that what has been presented by the police, and then Harry shows up at the ambush as according to plan. Everything worked out for the protagonists, nothing in there was interesting. The only conflict was the slight internal conflict that Holly had about turning his friend over to the police but even that is made to seem fairly cit and dry after a while.

In the end, they kill Harry and his mistress Anna doesn't want to be with Holly. Shocking! The bad guy gets caught and the lonesome writer continues to be lonesome save for maybe a sense of well being. Nothing about this really warranted a film being made.

Don't get me wrong, there were things that I liked. I thought that the basic skeleton idea for the story was good enough but they just never added anything to make it interesting. I liked the character of Major Calloway although again he was rather two dimensional. Of course, the cinematography was fantastic, in fact I found myself paying more attention to that than the story or the characters. But, in the end, some cool camera angles were not enough to save it for me.


The Gold Rush (1925)

Well I can finally have another film lifted off of the "I'm so ashamed that I've never seen this movie" list. You know, everyone has one, but I'm hoping to make mine shorter. Anyway...The Gold Rush definitely lived up to all of my expectations. It was classic in every sense of the word, it was entertaining the whole way through, and it was funny, it was just funny. 

This is the first Charlie Chaplin film that i have seen and I have always heard that he is a genius, but until you really see him in action it is hard to have a grasp on just how brilliant and groundbreaking his work was. About every ten minutes one of the two of us watching the film would mutter "oh that's where that came from." On top of that, I was entertained the whole time. There was never a moment that stuck out to me as being particularly dull or falling off even though at 95 minutes, it has a pretty long run time for a silent film.

One thing that struck me was the fact that the film maker's chose not to subtitle a good chunk of the dialog. It made for a much more fluid film and it was a great choice. It was always very apparent what was being said in the film if not by context then just by simply reading lips and, at times, not hearing the dialog added to the comedy.

Especially for 1925, the film was shot in beautiful black and white. It looked clear and crisp and didn't usually fall into the aesthetic pf being under-lit like many other films of that era.

Overall, The Gold Rush, is a must see film and one that is very much worth your time. It is one of those things that is obligatory but ultimately incredibly rewarding.


The Host (2006)

While I am totally bummed that I didn't get to see a giant monster wreck the shit out of Seoul Godzilla style, I did end up enjoying this film. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of it is lost on someone who has never lived in Korea, particularly some of the more quirky aspects. 

First of all, I thought that it was funny. I am surprised by this. Korean humor is generally not even mildly entertaining and relies heavily on physical comedy, overacting, worn out ideas, and strangely, men in drag. Yes, the humor was for the most part physical but it was done in a way that wasn't too over the top or goofy. One of my favorite ten second of the movie was when the family was sitting around in their food stand waiting for their ramen noodles to cook. If you have spent 24 hours in Korea, you totally know the feeling. It's frustrating. Anyway, it came at just the right time and was so effective at breaking up the tension a bit that I was really shocked at how subtly they managed to pull that off. 

A scene that I found a bit jarring, and I think that many people will agree, was the scene where the family was writhing on the floor crying at the girl's memorial. I understand where it comes from though. That's just how Korean drama's are. They are the most melodramatic and over the top shows that I have ever seen. I think that ultimately the film makers were trying to playfully poke fun at Korean dramas with that scene. And really, the fight that broke out was awesome. 

There were a lot of Korean stereotypes in the film. Namely, the drunk uncle. In this country, alcoholism isn't a disease, it's a way of life. The stuff in the green bottles, Soju, is cheaper than water and twice as popular. In fact Jinro Soju is the number one selling brand of alcohol in the world. Keep in mind that there are roughly 45,000,000 people in Korea (including babies and children) and you may get an idea of how much people drink. It was endlessly entertaining to me that they fought the monster with Soju. 

I really did enjoy the family dynamic in the film and it thought that it was a somewhat unique take on a traditional monster film. I also appreciated that at no point, did they shy away from showing the monster. Was it the best CGI I've ever seen? Heck no! But it was good enough and totally entertaining. 

For the past six months I have been hearing about how much I need to see this film from a bunch of twelve year olds. I have to say that I'm not disappointed. Yeah, it's not the greatest horror film ever made (as I have heard this claim many times) but I love a good campy monster movie and The Host certainly delivered.


Seven (1995)

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time this week to re-watch this film. I've seen it quite a few times though so I'm just going to have to work on memory. The good thing about it is that this film is in fact so incredibly memorable. 

The concept, as with most serial killer movies, is an interesting one but could have very easily turned out poorly. While there are shocking things in the film, the shock value is never the sole thing that the film makers are trying to achieve. The fact that the movie has a mystery feel with a twist ending is generally another red flag in my mind that makes me wary of something. Again, they pulled it off brilliantly though and it wan't contrived or campy. 

Of course, the acting was mind-blowingly good which is to be expected with the cast that they assembled for the film. The actors have amazing chemistry and you are never taken out of the story by anything they do.

Aside from all of this, the film is just pretty. I mean, as pretty as a dark, dirty, horror/serial killer film can be. The design was flawless even down to the last detail (and if you read about the dedication that the design crew had you will understand what I mean).

Seven is one hell of a film and while I don't think that I could recommend it to everyone, if you have the stomach for it, you should seriously see it. 


Naked Lunch (1991)

Seriously guys, what the hell? I can't even put my confusion and anger into words. This film was the  suck and I have absolutely no idea why it is on the list. Ok, so I hate Magnolia a lot, but I can at least understand why they put it on the 1001 movies list. I'm not even sure why someone felt that Naked Lunch had the right to exist. 

Giant talking asshole bugs are never ok.

It's not like the movie was even that deep. It just liked to act like it was because there was a lot of weird shit happening. I understand that writing about the writing process is cliche and overused and whatnot but deciding to just completely confuse/weird out/totally alienate your audience is not the way to go about solving your problem.

Anyway, I don't have too much more to say about this film other than I have no idea why it is on the list and it was an agonizing two hours. 


Top Gun (1986)

"Your ego's making checks your body can't cash."  

So you take a movie about bad ass fighter pilots, get two of the most prominent sex symbols of the day, a killer eighties soundtrack, throw in a sexy lady who also happens to have a P.H.D in astrophysics, and you get...one of the most homo erotic films that I have seen in a long time. Huh...

Ok, well that doesn't make it bad necessarily. At least it had a great script right? Some really poignant and deep dialog. "Don't screw around with me Maverick. You're a hell of an instinctive pilot. Maybe too good. I'd like to bust your butt but I can't." Ok, so maybe that wasn't a great example.

But the acting was spot on I'm sure. There were so many big names in there. They must have given some really Oscar worthy performances right? I'm pretty sure that Top Gun won some Oscars...ah yes, best music, best effects, best film editing, and best sound. Well I'm sure that they just got snubbed.

Well, the story then. The story must have been killer. I'm sure that it was a really accurate portrayal of life as a fighter pilot in training. Let's see here, it starts out with the heroes dogfighting with North Korean planes...in 1986. Ok, whatever, and then they go to the Top Gun Academy where they are considered the rebels but they always get the job done even if it is in a non-traditional way. Hey, that's a good concept! The main character is a total maverick, what was his call sign again?...Oh. So story is not the most important element of a film. 

But there were totally awesome F14 dog fighting scenes! Hells yeah! ::high five::

So top gun isn't the most thought provoking or artistic film ever made, but I think that you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn't think that it was at least a little enjoyable, especially if you have a sense of humor. Does it deserve to be on the list? Eh, it was a big deal in it's time so maybe. I think that the argument can be made that it is an important film to see at some point if for no other reason then the fact that it managed to really capture the nation's attention when it was released.


The Maltese Falcon (1941)

"When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it." 

I came into this film not knowing really anything but within the first ten minutes I felt that I knew exactly what it was all about. Not that it's a bad thing though. I don't really know if this film started it or if it continued it, but it was so entrenched in the private eye genre standards that I felt that I had seen it before.

Having said that, I think that The Maltese Falcon was definitely that best that I have seen of the genre. I have never minded a movie being completely stereotypical (assuming that it is a genre that I like). Part of me feels that this movie was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek anyway.

I do believe that this is the first Humphrey Bogart film that I have seen and I thought that he was really great. He had the cool detective thing down although I've been told that this is just about the only character that he can do. Well, yeah, that would get old but for now I totally dug it. And can we just talk about how hilarious "the fat man" was? I hope that was intentional but either way it was awesome.

From a film making standpoint The Maltese Falcon delivered. It was a gorgeous, clean black and white and the pacing, cinematography, and overall storytelling was really great. It was an excellent example of Film Nior but somehow felt lighter than most.

I enjoyed this film. It was kinda predictable and cliched but I you don't always have to have the most innovative ideas to make a good movie.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

"I saw three of these dusters a short time ago, they were waiting for a train. Inside the dusters, there were three men. Inside the men, there were three bullets."

I didn't know that my brain could handle three hours of such insane movie beauty and intense badassery. I forgot how much I fucking love this film (and the genre in general). Having said that, this is totally not for everyone. While I would be just as happy to don a full length duster and a cowboy hat and walk around with a six shooter all day, the hardcore western fan is a bit hard to come by in this day and age. Particularly in my generation. 

There are, of course, reasons for this and Once Upon a Time in the West has all of them. A slow drawn out story with scenes that linger and linger on no dialog and no action. Major questions, major character development left unexplored until the end of the film. Cheesy and stereotypical plots and lines. And of course, the silent, stoic hero. Yes, for some people, these are the reasons to hate a film like this. For me, it i why I love it. It's just an aesthetic. 

Having said that, no one can deny how pretty the film was. Every individual shot seemed like it was painstakingly wrought. Even the most minute details were considered and it created a stunning visual piece the entire way through. 

As far as the story goes, sure, some of the ideas were a bit cliche (a city girl moving to the west, a railroad coming through town, a gang of dudes wearing dusters), but that wasn't really the point now was it. They took these elements and imagined them in a different way and that is where the soul of the western lies. I also love the idea, that is present in most westerns of this era, that you never quite know who the good guy is. Maybe there is no good guy. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good old fashioned good guy riding into town and taking out all of the bad cowboys but it would not have worked in this film. All of the characters in the story were deeply flawed and it makes for a much more down to earth and interesting story than it otherwise would have been. 

All in all, while Once Upon a Time in the West is not my favorite western, it is probably the best example of the genre. And yes, I can admit that it did go on a little too long, even for me, but it payed off the entire way through. 


La Vie En Rose (2007)

While I definitely celebrated the demise of the biopic thing that happened in 2007 and 2008 I don't really dislike the genre. It just got really really old after a while. For me, a little of this lingering bad taste in my mouth colored the way I saw this film a bit. 

I really enjoyed it though. The acting was, of course, absolutely phenomenal, the cinematography was gorgeous and the story was interesting enough. I liked the idea of flashing back and forth between where she came from and what she had become. 

The film, in general though, just tried to accomplish too much. It tried to tackle the whole broad scope of her life and in the process a lot was lost in translation. There were too many characters, the story got a bit muddled, and things that would seem important never made an appearance (like World War II for instance). It seems to me that if someone had an interesting enough life to make a film about it, a filmmaker probably could not fit the scope of their whole life in one film. A movie that did the whole biopic thing exceptionally was Capote. It did well, in part, because the filmmakers found one of the most interesting, if not the most interesting piece of Truman Capote's life and focused on that. Because of this, it turned out to be a tight film with a narrow focus that managed to get across a message or two. This was really hat La Vie En Rose lacked. 

So, in the end, I enjoyed the film. It definitely managed to capture my attention for two plus hours (which is really not easy) but without its exceptional performances, I don't feel that I would be a all enamored with it. 


Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "No more fucking ABBA!" 

I really hate ABBA. It is an unnatural burning hate. So the fact that I had to listen to it in this movie may have had some impact on my opinion of it. Even though the total run time was only 104 minutes, the movie felt really loooooong to me. After a while, the plot just seemed to drag (pun totally intended!). There were some great one liners and, at first, I found the jokes really funny. As the movie wore on though, all of the drag queen/transsexual material got kind of old and stale. By the end of the film I just wanted to yell, "Yeah we know that you like to dress up as girls and dance around, I get it haha."

While there were definitely some interesting points in the film, overall, the relationships between the characters never truly caught my interest. I thought that the love story between Bernadette and Bob was nice and the idea that Tick had a wife and a son where they were going was an interesting curve ball. It just never quite came together for me and I just ended up being confused as to exactly what kind of statement they were trying to make about these relationships. 

There were, of course, some visually beautiful moments in the film. I loved the moif of the long reams of fabric flying behing the bus as it drives through the desert. Even this though started to wear on me after I had seen it over and over again. The desert theme did not help this feeling (and yes that is what they were going for). It just made me feel somewhat isolated and trapped during the film and in the end I walked away with more of an overall sense of desperation than an idea that everything worked out in the end.

Yes, I liked this film. I didn't love it. I feel that I have seen it before and that I have seen this same idea done better (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). I was very surprised to see that this movie was on the list to be quite honest. I know that it made a big splash in the indy world when it come out but I just don't think that, for me, it ever lived up to the hype. 


Deliverance (1972)

"Insurance? I never been insured in my life. There's no risk. "

Let's just get this out of the way at the beginning. Burt Reynolds is a man amongst boys. Now that I have discussed that, we can get on with business. 

I got pretty much what I was expecting out of this film. An overall disturbing sensation, people running for their lives, characters wondering what to do once they have killed someone, and a little bit of rape. All of that and I didn't even really know that much about the film. I think that overall Deliverance had the elements that the filmmakers wanted to convey but I think that they should have gone further with some of the themes and cut out others. 

In the moment that they realize that they will also have to bury Drew in the lake along with the others, Bobby makes the observation that it will never end. This is a really great theme to explore and while they touched on it I don't think that they ever dove into this theme which is unfortunate because it would have been the most interesting parts of the film. 

It would have been a good decision to get rid of most of the initial canoeing down the river and use that time to explore more so what happened to the three men once they got out of the river. This is a much more interesting topic than a bunch of city dudes and one Davy Crockett testosterone pumped guide floating on some water.

This was an absolutely beautifully photographed film though. I had no idea when it was made until I asked about it. The colors were vibrant, the shots were not totally innovative but always interesting, and overall it really did make you feel like you had been dropped in the Georgia woods (which may not be such a great thing now that I think about it). In addition to that I thought that the sound mixing really stood out (and no, I am not being facetious). I find that a lot of times, when there is running water in film (particularly older films) it can overwhelm the soundtrack but it was done very nicely here. There were also a lot of nature sounds mixed in a more subtle manner than is per usual. The music is, of course, iconic and I can see why. It is not only very interesting, but mixed in the right parts at the right noise level. 

Overall, I thought that this film was pretty good. I don't know that I will be screening it at my next movie night or anything but it is iconic and I'm glad that I finally saw it. I think that many of the ideas in the film have been rehashed and done a lot better (A Simple Plan) but there is something to say for it being the original (if it is in fact the original). 

A final thought before we wrap up our January movies. I don't know if anyone else has realized this but, for some reason, this month's movie picks have mostly given an elaborate argument for not living in a given place:
Mulholland Dr. - don't live in L.A. you will get shot at and find rapidly decomposing bodies (that you later become and then tiny old people make you kill yourself?)
The Last Picture Show - don't live in rural Texas. Nothing will ever go right in your life, ever. 
Deliverance - don't live in rural Georgia, you will probably not make it out alive and unraped.
Manhattan - well I guess that it's ok to live in Manhattan, if you can deal with Woody Allen.


The Last Picture Show (1971)

I can't say that I liked this movie. I can't say that I hated it either. I also can't say anything negative about the current South Korean Prime minister. So there we go.

For whatever reason it just didn't seem to capture my interest at all. There were some interesting characters but way too many of them and because of that you really didn't get to know most of them. It really only made the movie seem disconnected and muddied. There were definitely some central themes and, you know, universal truths and things but for the most part, the movie was either jumbled or predictable.

Also, I have no problem with a sex scene or two but seriously, how much awkward sex can be crammed into two hours? I understand that sexuality and coming of age was one of the biggest, if not the biggest themes in the film and I have no problem with lingering on a scene of really stiff awkward sex for a long time if it proves a point but to have to sit through that many scenes of it just became excruciating after a while.

I honestly don't have too much more to say about the film. It was overall just kind of bland to me. I liked the idea of Sam holding the town together and after his death everything started to crumble. In the end though, the film just seemed mediocre at best to me. I guess that maybe it just didn't click.

Oh also, I never want to live in rural Texas.


Mulholland Dr. (2001)

"Now you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me, two more times, if you do bad. Good night."

This is a film that I would never fault anyone for not liking and yet almost everyone I know inexplicably enjoys it. I, am of course, included in this category of person. Even though I have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time, it somehow remains entertaining all of the way through. For a movie that is pushing two and a half hours, that is quite a feat. For a movie that, at least on a first viewing, made no sense to me, that is nothing short of fantasmic.

Much to my surprise though, upon viewing it a second time, it actually did make a lot more sense to me. I don't know if this is due to the weakened state of my mental health now that I teach young children all day or the fact that I was expecting a lot of the craziness and was able to look past it this time. I will forgo giving any of my half hearted theories about what really happened and which dream sequence took place during which fantasy in an alternate reality and all of that. Honestly I kind of feel like thinking about it too hard is missing the point.

The undeniable fact was that there was a very powerful love story happening and weather or not it happened in the "real world" or in a plastic blue box it is extremely compelling. The Rita character is always somewhat angelic and mysterious and by the end of the film the audience falls in love with her too. It compels the viewer in a way that they are not just rooting for Diane's relationship in a third party type of way but in a way that they personally have a vested interest in the state of the relationship. As much as they clunky dialogue and surreal fantasy world in the first half are meant to take the viewer out of this film, this is how the second half of the film pulls the viewer in.

But these are just a few reasons why I enjoy this film. I think that the bulk of why I find something like this fascinating is just intangible. Frankly, I would rather not have someone sit down and explain to me exactly what happened and why or give a break down of the film in different time-lines and things, it just works more for me that way. Mulholland Dr. is about letting go and allowing yourself to step into David Lynch's brain for a little while, and yes, it is a scary place.


Manhattan (1979)

Generally watching a Woody Allen film makes me want to drop kick a toddler. This one however, was not half bad.

I honestly don't know what it is that people find funny about Woody Allen, he is a whiny guy with an annoying accent that relies way to much on Jewish humor. Not to insult anyone who likes him or anything, but I just don't get it. Sure, he says some funny things, even some hilarious things every once in a while ("Years ago I wrote this short story about my Mother called "The Castrating Zionist"). The amount of bumbling bullshit you have to sit through though just makes it not worth it for me.

Having said all that, I would have to admit that overall, I enjoyed Manhattan. I think that it was a really honest story about relationships and it was neat to get to see New York from the perspective of someone who loves it so much. There were some definitely funny moments in the film and Woody Allen only kind of annoyed me (the toddlers of Korea are safe for now). While I did like it, there is not much else for me to say about its merits other than "it was nice."

There were some things that bothered me though. Like who decided that Woody Allen is a highly attractive man that should be able to date not just one but two different beautiful women? The thought of Woody Allen and sex in the same film makes me want to become a nun. I'm not trying to have impossible standards for beauty or anything but really? really? Also, the man has no real redeeming qualities in the film, he is self conscious, whiny, oh and unemployed. I mean good for him and all but it was just kind of hard to believe from my perspective.

Also, the fact that he was a forty-two year old man dating a seventeen year old girl was just flat out creepy. Even so, the other characters barely commented on it. I think that the correct reaction should be "WTF do you want to go to jail?" not "Oh Issac, so silly dating a seventeen year old. Oh, haha you are older than her father? That's cute." Blegh. Gross.

Well anyway, Manhattan was much better than I expected (especially after seeing the disaster that was Annie Hall). I laughed, I enjoyed, I tried not to vomit in my mouth a couple of times, but overall I'm glad that I saw it.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

I tend to have a very love-hate relationship with Steven Speildburgh and generally for reasons that are rather inexplicable, but I do love this movie. It showcases a darker side of his sensibilities. Sure, there are family issues in a lot of his movies and, of course, this isn't the only darker film he has made but generally his movies don't revolve around a dysfunctional family that is completely falling apart.

Of course, the film is remembered as an alien film and it is in a sense but I think that the family drama often gets overlooked. I makes a statement that is not usually made anywhere is Hollywood. That perhaps, everything is not going to be all right. Something that people don't often think about is the fact that in the end Roy Neary abandons his wife and children t go live with aliens and it is set up in a way that he audience is cheering him along.

But, of course, there are aliens, and the effects are pretty stunning for 1977. I really do wish that they never gave us a clear picture of the aliens though, because as usual, what we can individually imagine in our own minds is generally more interesting than what they put on screen.

In the end, this is a film about Roy trying to find happiness, by any means necessary. His journey is very engaging and I think that most everyone can find a bit of their own search within his. We are lead to believe that he does in fact find what he was searching for all along but left to think about the question, "at what price?"


M.A.S.H. (1970)

To me, M.A.S.H. isn't so much a move as it is an amalgamation of random occurrences that happened to all take place in the Korean war in the same unit. And before you roll your eyes any further into the back of your head and sigh "Well obviously, that's what he was going for," know that just because the director accurately depicted "what he was going for," doesn't mean it's good. I guess that I'm just not really sure what the point is (and maybe that in itself is the point (but maybe that it just a little too post modern for my sensibilities)).

But really, what more did I expect from Robert Altman? I mean that man gets off on listening to people having disjointed conversations over the actual important conversations which by that point are just totally indecipherable. I mean, have you seen Gosford Park? Anyway, If I wanted to listen to a bunch of people having meaningless conversation over each other, I would go back and sit in my office for a while (which I am currently trying to avoid by any means necessary so why would I want that in a film?). Generally, I like films because they are escapist. They aren't real life. If I felt that I just couldn't get enough of every day real life I would probably not be watching a movie at that moment and be out grocery shopping or something. Altman seems to have missed this point entirely over his career though.

I also tend to enjoy my movies much like my men. I appreciate wen they are going somewhere! You know, some kind of driving element that makes the story move along, conflict, plot, all leading towards a resolution. Oh no that would be way too much like a film for Robert Altman to put it in his film (wait a minute...). Mostly at then end it just made me go "so why exactly did I watch that?"

As a point of interest, I have watched many films that some would consider sexist (Marnie for example) and had a romping good time, but seriously this film was sexist as hell and it takes a lot for me to say that. Besides all of the rampant sexual abuses being depicted, the only woman in a position of power (and it was a minor one) was automatically demonized, called an idiot and in the end forced to be naked in front of the entire camp. Now I won't go into how this is close enough to glorifying rape and all that shit but come on people! Ok, so maybe that was the point. Maybe he was trying to point out the sexism in the military and what not, somehow I doubt it though.

Of course there were funny moments, that film had its humor. I laughed out loud maybe once or twice, I chuckled, I can admit that. Overall though, it just wasn't enough to save it. I could hang around a group of random people all day and probably get just as many laughs. It would feel about the same as watching the film too, only more productive.

In the end, I can see how this probably made a damn fine TV show (I have never seen it) but as a movie it is lacking a lot. I actually find t hard to understand how it is so popular.


8/12 (1963)

I loved this movie even more on a second viewing. It is funny, and poignant and you could petty much write a twenty page thesis on every scene in the film. But as was pointed out, "This life is so full of confusion already, that there's no need to add chaos to chaos." As I have always been a fan of brevity and with the central themes of this film in mind, I present you with my 8 and 1/2 word movie review:

So much symbolism, my head is really going to splode!


Marnie (1964)

Instead of posting a more traditional review of Marnie, I decided to contact Sean Connery and ask the man himself what he felt about this film. Below is a partial transcript of that interview.

Me: Well hello Mr. Connery, it certainly is nice to be able to speak with you.

Sean Connery: You're very sexy with your face clean.

Me: Oh...thanks. Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was that film Marnie that you made way back in 1964. Now from what I understand, it was a pretty big flop at the box office and only in later years did it really gain critical acclaim. It certainly does have Hitchcock's particular aesthetic written all over it. For example, the blatant use of the zoom, dolly, and extreme close up to make the viewer hyper aware that they are in fact watching a film. Also his stage like film making techniques give the audience a sense that they are watching a play as a means to heighten the drama of the situation. Honestly, I am not a big fan of these techniques and I really believe that for me, at least, it really only serves to take me outside of the film mentally.

Sean Connery: What do you believe in?

Me: Well, I understand that there are a whole lot of Hitchcock fans out there but I guess that I'm just really not one. His brand of film making tends to irritate me more than fascinate me. For instance, I have never watched a Hitchcock film and felt that it was remotely well paced. I also find the theatrics of his films very over the top and unintentionally funny. I just can't handle his particular style.

Sean Connery: By anybody? Or just me?

Me: I'm sorry, I don't understand what your asking.

Sean Connery: Really? You didn't seem to mind at my office that day, or at the stables. And all this last week i've handled you.

Me: I, uuh...don't think you understand what I'm talking about. Let's just get back to the interview. The film wasn't all bad for me though. I really loved the opening shot of Marnie walking slowly away and the camera zooming out from her bright yellow purse. It was a great introduction to her character and at least the surface aspects of her psyche. It was also just very intriguing and a great hook for the rest of the film. Do you remember what it was like to shoot the first scene?

Sean Connery: You're here to answer the questions old girl.

Me: No actually, I think that you missed the point of having an interview. And if you really want to know, I felt that the whole ending of the film was trite and there was no logical progression to it. I'm getting the feeling though the you think that I am wrong.

Sean Connery: That's right - you are. And I've caught something really wild this time, haven't I? I've tracked you and caught you and by God I'm going to keep you.
Me: I don't even know where you were going with that one but don't you find it a little silly that halfway through the film you pretty much became a professional psycologist? Your character had no reason to be such an expert on Freud and psychoanalysis in general. The worst part though, was that the ending of the movie really hinged on your talent as an amateur psychologist which made it seem more than a little contrived.

Sean Connery: I'm fighting a powerful impulse to beat the hell out of you.

Me: Well that is just really inappropriate and I think that this interview is over now. I was even going to say some more nice things about the film like how I felt that the story itself was very interesting and even that I enjoyed your character a lot. Now you'll just never know.

Sean Connery: Atlantic City opens for races at the end of the month. We could drive out there next Saturday...

Me: Yeah right. I don't even know you and just because you used to be James Bond (which is why you got the part in this film in the first place) doesn't mean that you can tell me what to do.

Sean Connery: When we get home, I'll explain that we had a lover's quarrel... That you ran away... That I went after you and brought you back.

Me: Ok well I'm going to end this interview before my boyfriend gets home because I don't think he would be to happy about this.

Sean Connery: He also admires wholesome animal lust.