Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

My film related goals this new year are to try and post at least every other day, even if it's a short review.  I'll post a short review if I'm having a bad sick day since I can always come back and edit it later.  Also, I'm making more themed weeks because those were fun.

I have an important theme coming up for the New Year: For the next 40 reviews (except Saturdays) every film will be from a different country.  I realized that most movies I watch are American and if I keep at this pace I'll only have foreign films left near the end.  So, I'm picking one film from each country and reviewing it.
Even though I'm strictly focusing on the 2012 edition, I listed all the new additions from the recent 2013 edition as well as any deleted movie in my "Honorable Mentions" section on the right side of the page.  My non-film-related resolutions include working out and lots of cosplay.  I might review one last film before the year is over but for right now I will leave y'all with a Tangled gif:


Monday, December 23, 2013

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Today's film is Heavenly Creatures.  I found some parts to be weird, some parts boring, some parts awkward and some parts okay.  It was one of the most unusual films I have ever seen.

Pauline is an awkward lonely teenage girl until she meets the new student, Juliet.  They both have a rebellious spirit, Pauline likes to doodle why Juliet is keen to correct the teachers.  Which is typically what we do at high school, but their friendship becomes incredibly strong.  They spend most of their time in a fantasy world involving the royal family in a castle.

The fantasy world is one of the best parts because that's where Peter Jackson shines.  I don't know how he made those giant clay people but they look freakishly real.  To me, the fantasy sequences are the most interesting part of the movie.  Otherwise, it's mostly a boring teenage friendship/romance plot.  They did interview the real Pauline who said that they were not lesbians, but that doesn't matter.  What matters is they spend so much time in their fantasy world that it becomes their reality, and they cannot stand to be separated.  What I don't understand is why they burned all of their Mario Lanza records.


I was surprised at how brutally they killed Pauline's mother.  This shouldn't be a spoiler because it's a true story and it happened over 50 years ago.  They take turns bashing her in with a brick.  And all because she wouldn't let her go overseas with Juliet.  Ironically, after being arrested and convicted, Juliet and Pauline were never allowed to see each other again.  In real life, they both changed their names.  Pauline, now Hilary, runs a school and devotes her life to disabled children.  Juliet, now Anne, writes murder mysteries.  Well I guess she would be an expert in that.  Since this murder was famous, Peter Jackson decided to make a film focusing on their relationship rather than just the murder itself.  In fact, if it weren't a true story, you would never expect them to do that.  I typically don't like films like this, but it was well made.  Also, this is the debut of the main stars playing Juliet and Pauline.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Frozen (2013)

We got to see Frozen and it was amazing! It was very well done and is not like the typical princess meets prince story.  The film also redefines true love.

Anna and Elsa are the princesses of Arendelle, a secluded kingdom in Norway.  For reasons not explained, Elsa was born with the powers to create snow and ice.  She uses this ability often to create snow-time fun with her sister.  After accidentally striking her sister's head, her parents rush her to be cured.  In order to remove the magic from her sister's head, all the memories of magic were removed as well.  Elsa is so afraid of hurting her sister again that she isolates herself from her.  Unfortunately, fear and emotional distress make her powers worse and harder to control.

Fast forward a few years later, when Elsa is to be crowned Queen.  Up until then, they kept the gates shut and let very few people into the castle.  During the song "For the First Time in Forever" look for Rapunzel (with short brown hair) and Flynn as cameos.  During the after-coronation party, Elsa's powers are accidentally set off and only get worse.  She flees into the mountains.  I'm not going into a lot of detail because the film is still in theaters.


One thing I liked is how they joked about people getting engaged the same day they meet, which is what happened in a lot of fairy tales.  Prince Hans, who is handsome and charming, asks Anna to marry him.  Queen Elsa won't bless the marriage because they haven't known each other but for one day.  As Anna travels to find her sister, she meets Kristoff and his loyal reindeer, Sven.  Kristoff also makes fun of her for getting engaged so soon.

The best song is "Let it Go" sung by Idina Menzel as Elsa.  She's had to keep her powers hidden for so long and finally gets to explore her own creativity and abilities.  From personal experiences at work,  Idina Menzel can be quite a bitch but she sure can sing.


Above all, this film is about sisterhood.  Anna and Elsa are as different as can be, but they complement each other.  I can't wait until my own sisters visit here soon so we can watch it together.  We learn that true love is putting someone else's needs above our own.  Elsa truly loves her sister, that's why she isolated herself to protect her.  Anna will discover her own version of true love in the end.  The only part I didn't care for was the talking magical snowman, Olaf.  I thought he was useless, but he was cute for the kids so I'll let it pass.  I will give this film a 9/10.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Amadeus (1984)

Next up on my queue is Amadeus.  This was actually a relaxing film to watch!  Even though I know nothing about classical music or opera, this film was still accessible to me.  It is mainly a film about jealously.

Antonio Salieri came from a humble family that didn't care much for music.  He worked very hard and eventually became court composer for the king.

Mozart was a child prodigy that could play the piano and violin and a very young age.  He wrote symphonies before he was 10 years old.  He had an amazing inborn talent for music.  He could hear a song once and play it perfectly.  But, like many child stars, he was a spoiled brat.


Salieri is insanely jealous of Mozart and vows to destroy him.  He also blames God for all his problems.  Mozart is very good at writing music, but has no idea how to make or budget money.  In the end

I loved the costumes.  I thought they were glamorous.  My favorite part was Mozart's apartment.  It was so gorgeous.  It was elegant yet simple.  I really wish I could live there.

After watching this, I looked some facts up and it turns out this movie is not very historically accurate.  But that doesn't matter.  Even though I don't know anything about opera, this movie was quite appealing to me.  I thought Tom Hulce, who played Mozart, did an excellent job.  Even though I was relaxing, there was plenty of drama to go around.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Today's film is Bringing Up Baby.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.  First off, Baby is a leopard and not an actual baby.  Everyone is so manic in the film and nothing normal is happening.  The gags go on for so long that they stop being funny anymore.

I don't like Cary Grant in comedies.  Sure, he's cute, but I don't like his style at all.  He always comes off too manic and fake for me.  I found his character really annoying.


My favorite was Katharine Hepburn's character.  She made the entire movie, especially when she just randomly takes people's cars.  I finally figured out why these sort of movies are called screwball because this is the screwiest  movie I have ever seen. There is so much randomness.  There's a leopard, a piece of a dinosaur skeleton that gets stolen by an ugly dog, and everybody gets jailed for some reason.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mid-December Update

Mid-December Update
As most everyone knows, I like to review films as a cope with living with my illness.  I focus on the 1001 list, and in doing so, am able to complete smaller lists as well.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Since last week, I started two new medications, and I'm having a really hard time adjusting to them.  One is for my nervous system in general, and the other is for seizures.  This is on top of the others that I take.

How I feel taking all this medicine

 I'm starting to walk a little better, but I still use my cane.  The problem is my cognitive abilities are going down faster than I'd hope.  Sure, I can lay here and watch a movie but that doesn't mean I'll remember it.  I've mainly been watching Top Chef on Hulu because it doesn't require much thought.  Here's what I've been watching so far and what I remember of it:

Man of Steel.
My husband put this film on as I am not in a position to protest.  It's an outrageously long film about Jesus. Lots of religious undertones and lots of long drawn out violent scenes that add nothing to the story.  I kept zoning out during the drawn out fights.  This film wanted so badly to be Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight,  but it can't.  And it never will be.  I can't recommend this film to anyone.

Friday the 13th part 2
I watched this because it actually was Friday the 13th last week.  Quite an outlandish premise.  To suggest that Jason didn't die by drowning, but survived, albeit brain damaged, and lived like a wild man in the woods.  Then, as an adult, he starts killing people.  There are so many questions left unanswered.  Is this a terrible movie, or is it my meds?  At this point I don't know.

Iron Man 3
I liked it because it's Iron Man.  I like anything Iron Man.  I'll have to watch this movie again because a lot of parts confused me.

For Animation Saturday, we watched Turbo.  It's about a snail that races the Indy 500.  That should tell you all  you need to know.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Today's film is Hannah and Her Sisters.  Every character is deplorable, selfish, and generally awful.  What a fun movie. This film is 100% about the various interactions of the family members.  Let's look at them in depth:
 

 
#1 
 
Super Asshole Elliot, played by Michael Caine.  He cheats on his wife.  With her own sister. And then, he never tells his wife because he's afraid to break up his marriage.  He quietly watches the sister's own marriage fall apart and is upset when she marries someone else.  But he never stops loving her.  I think he stays with his wife because she's so successful and she suspects nothing.  He feels comfortable with her, but does he care about her at all?
 
#2
 
Second asshole on the list is Lee.  She should know better than to sleep with her sister's husband.  That is a serious violation of the sis code.  Do not narc, don't lie, and always defend.  If anyone wrongs or insults my sisters, it is my righteous duty to shank them.  Sure, her husband is an antisocial weirdo, but that's no excuse.  Sometimes marriages end.  But don't ruin someone else's happiness just because you're unhappy in your own marriage.
 
#3.
 
Mickey.  Not necessarily an ass, however he is very self-centered.  As a hypochondriac, he constantly worries about his health.  After a serious health scare, and realizing he is perfectly fine, he pretty much just shuts down.  He stops producing shows or whatever he does, and spends the next year trying out religions and subsequently making fun of them.  Which leads me to my main question, Does anyone up north work?  Do they just hang around coffeehouses all day?  And do they really gather around a piano and sing old songs?  That doesn't seem real to me.  In fact, the entire family have an air of artificiality around them, what with them all sleeping with each other and lying.
 
#4
 
Hannah.  Hannah's not an asshole, but she is the weakest character of all of them.  I don't even understand why she is the star.  Mia Farrow did the weakest acting job and I got nothing from her.  It's ironic that her character is supposed to be an amazing actor because that is totally the opposite of what happened.  Hannah is Mickey's ex-wife.  After having twins through a donor sperm (read: not Mickey), their marriage fell apart.  Later, Hannah and Lee set up Mickey on a date.  With who?  Why, their other sister of course!  This gets better and better.

#5 

Holly. She's the other sister that was set up with Mickey.  She's a dope fiend that lives in her more successful sister's shadow.  She's not a good singer or actress but eventually finds her passion as a writer.  After a terrible date, she later rekindles her romance with Mickey and it somehow works.


So why would I want to watch this if all the characters are so unlikeable?  It's more realistic this way.  In fact, Hannah is supposedly perfect and she's the most annoying character because of it.  Nobody on Seinfeld was perfect and that was the greatest show ever.  No, I don't like how they just all hop in bed with each other, but if you want to see characters that truly "keep it in the family", then you will enjoy this too.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Suspiria (1977)

Today's film is Suspiria.  *Yawn*.  I don't know what I was expecting, but not this.  It's not a bad movie, but it's not great either.  Also, before I got sick I studied dance very seriously, so maybe I had too high expectations on this.  Dance, especially ballet, and horror films are like two of my favorite things.

The editing is really bad in this film.  In the beginning, the main star Suzy is shown leaving the school at night.  Then, it jumps to another girl talking about how she left the school.  The girl has the same hair and clothes style as Suzy, so I just assumed it was the same person because nothing told me otherwise.  Then, she gets killed and the next day, Suzy returns to the school!  Oh, they are different people.  The shift in narrative was so jarring there was no telling who was who.

The creepy electronic music gives a nice atmospheric horror touch to the film.  Otherwise, it is a very colorful film for a horror.  In fact, the director told the cinematographer to study Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to match the color scheme.


For a movie about a dangerous witch coven, only three people die, and for stupid reasons.  One was killed because his seeing eye dog supposedly bit that creepy child, and another one got expelled.  She's already gone, leave her alone.  All of the deaths are gruesome and not badly done.

Suzy figures out where the coven is holding its meetings and kills the old gypsy witch leader.  Then, everything starts collapsing around her and as she runs out, the building is engulfed in flames.  Are we forgetting all the other students that lived there?  This movie is so frustrating.  I will give it a 5/10.

Monday, December 2, 2013

All About Eve (1950)

Today's film is All About Eve.  Let me tell you all about Eve.  Eve is a winner, a go-getter. Eve is determined to succeed.  Eve gains her success not in spite of, but with the help of, her haters.

What is a hater?  A hater is defined as: A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.  Margo is a hater.  Look at her.

Margo is about 40 and still playing characters that are in their 20s.  How can anyone buy this?  Eve knows this better than anyone.  She waited and waited until she got the chance to meet Margo, and quickly involved herself in her life.  After all, who better to replace an old actress than her?  Margo is too used to her lifestyle, hardly rehearses, and shows up late to everything.  Eve shows up on time, works hard, rehearses (as I can tell by how well she read lines), is the correct age and look for the parts she plays, and is generally everything Margo wants to be but can't.  And what about Karen?  How dare she treat Eve the way she does.  What has Karen ever done with her life except fuck a playwright?  She doesn't deserve any more time in my review.
Also, let's talk about Addison, the drama critic.  Homeboy looks like Stephen Fry and that is probably the reason I like him so much.  In addition, he is the only one smarter than Eve.  I first noticed that when he was asking Eve questions about San Francisco.  When he mentioned the theatres, I didn't recognize the names, but realized he was testing her.  I've had to use that tactic before.  When you're in a relationship with a pathological liar, you have to.  Eve didn't need to make up all those stories about a fake husband and living in California.  But, nobody is perfect.  At the end, Eve gets her own mini-Eve in the form of a high schooler that broke into her apartment. Circle of life right there.  But I don't think she's going to succeed as well as Eve did.  Eve is a boss.  I will give this film a 9/10.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Lion King (1994)








Today's animated feature is The Lion King.  What can I say about it that has not been said before?  It is regarded as one of the best and well-made animations ever.  It also marks the first time Disney has used a Shakespeare play instead of a children's book or fairy tale.

Did you have to read Hamlet in school?  We did.  Sometimes it's hard to read because of the flowy language, but that's how they talked back then.  In the story, the King has a jealous brother who kills him to take the throne and the Queen marries him.  The King appears in ghost form to his son, Prince Hamlet and tells him the truth about his death.  Hamlet goes to avenge his father's death and absolutely everybody dies.

Naturally this isn't going to work for a family animated film.  The King in this film is Mufasa and his jealous dark-maned brother is Scar.  In the Manazoto language, Mufasa literally means "king".  I guess we know the parents' favorite when one is named King and the other Scar.  For real.  Does Scar's black mane illustrate his not-fitting-in the family, as if he's the black sheep (or lion) in the family?

Scar is the most badass of all villains.  He's even better than any Bond villain.  He doesn't tie anyone up and give a lenghty explanation of his plan.  He simply says to his brother, "Long live the king", and tosses him off a cliff.  Granted, he did do a musical number detailing his plans of usurping the throne accompained by Nazi goose-stepping hyenas, but the victim was not there to see it.

Scar also makes it seem to Simba that he was the one who caused his father's death.  He tells him, "Nobody means for these things to happen.  But, the king is dead, and if it weren't for you he'd still be alive."  He tells him to run away and never return.  Once he is gone, he orders the hyenas to kill him.  Notice how he didn't directly kill them himself.  Simba escapes into the jungle, where he meets Timon and Pumbaa.  They teach him the art of "not giving a fuck", also known as "Hakuna Matata".

Fast forward a few years later, because I don't know how long lions live, when Scar's bad practices have led to the destruction of the pridelands and the starvation of everyone.  Even the hyenas are starting to turn on him.  Nala, Simba's childhood friend, finds him and implores him to return and take his true place as king.  Simba doesn't want to, partially because of guilt and partially because of laziness.  That is, until his father returns.

His father appears to him in the night sky, as a ghost in cloud form.  Look, if your dead father appears in a cloud telling you to get your shit together, it's really time to get your shit together.  So, Simba runs back home - to dramatic African music.  Will he defeat his uncle and bring balance back to the Pridelands?  Of course he will.

The best part of this movie is the beautiful score and fun songs.  I bought the soundtrack just for the score by Hans Zimmer.  This is one of the best animated films I have ever seen.  It has a beautiful score, great story, and stunning animation.  I can watch it again and again and never tire of it.  It is so great.  I will give this film a 10/10.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunshine Award! :D


What's this?


I got an award! Thanks to Brigitte Badeau of I blame Movies for this award. I totally appreciate it.  In my quest for 1001 films, I come across many serious dramas, but I still try to keep my reviews lighthearted and funny.  Also lots of pony gifs because I'm an adult.  Here's the awesome award I got and it reminds me of the sunflower from Plants Vs. Zombies 2 (that I'm playing right now)



But there are rules!

1. Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself (use these or come up with your own).
4. Nominate 10 bloggers.
5. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated. 


1. Most shameful movie confession?

I have never watched Blade Runner, even though I love sci-fi films and have a crush on the young Harrison Ford.  Also I'm going to confess that I find most film noir cheesy.

2. Favorite animal?

Tigers.  I went to Auburn University, and our mascot is the Tiger.

3. Favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Smoothies.  Whether coffee or fruit smoothies, they are a choice breakfast or post-workout snack.

4. Favorite music?

I was raised on heavy metal and rock, but sometimes I also enjoy indie rock.  So my playlist consists of everything from Black Sabbath to Phoenix, Imagine Dragons, Rammstein, Chevelle, Godsmack, and Led Zeppelin.  My favorite band of all time is Rage Against the Machine.

5. Favorite TV-show?

We actually don't own a tv, but sometimes watch online or on Netflix.  My daughter and I love watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  I also enjoy watching cooking competitions like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen.  I guess I like any show with Alton Brown in it.

6. Favorite movie-going memory?

I've loved dinosaurs ever since I was little, so when I was 8 years old, my dad said he would take me to my first pg-13 rated movie.  And that it would be about dinosaurs.  I was so excited.  And do you know what that movie was?



That's right, it's Jurassic Park!  Watching this film sparked a lifelong passion for science fiction and horror films.  This film perfectly mixes sci fi and fantasy, tells an amazing story, and quite possibly is the best film ever.  Ever.  And it has dinosaurs!  Even now, my dad (who lives way up north) and I love chatting about what horror films we've seen.

I'm watching the children's show Dinosaur Train with my daughter in hopes that she'll be as psyched about them as I am. So far, so good.

7. Movie most people love that I dislike?

Fanny and Alexander.  I know a lot of people rave about it, but I absolutely loathe that movie.

8.  Favorite short film?

La jetée (The Pier).  It's a time travel film that loops perfectly and tells an interesting story in such a short amount of time.  It's very well done.

9. My passion?

Besides films?  I enjoy spending time playing games or dolls with my daughter.  I go to the beach as much as I can.  I can't walk very well but I can swim.  I also enjoy trivia games with my friends.

10. Favorite soundtrack?

My daughter votes for The Little Mermaid, while I enjoy the soundtracks to Wes Anderson films.

My nominees:
  1.  TSorensen  1001 Movie Blog
  2. Ming Movie Reviews
  3. Silent Volume
  4. Film Flammers
  5. Adol's CinematoBlogoWebboScreed
  6. Tips from Chip
  7. Flickers in Time
  8. Dan the Man's Movie Reviews
  9. "...let's be splendid about this..."
  10. Brian vs. Movies


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

I'm back from my beach vacation.  Even though we only live 35 minutes from a beach, our work schedules make it impossible to go, but we made time for our 5th wedding anniversary.  So I'm back to writing and today's film is The Phantom of the Opera.  In today's standards, it's not scary, but it is a good classic version of the story and there is no annoying singing.
 
I was wondering how they were going to portray an opera because it's a silent film.  It would be no good to watch Christine, who is supposed to be an amazing soprano, if we couldn't hear her.  So I was very surprised to actually hear her!  I know the audio didn't match the video perfectly, but that was before they had that kind of technology.  They did the best they could with what they had and it works.  Also, the music in this film is far better than most silent films I've seen.
 
So, the Phantom is infatuated with Christine and wants to make her a star.  So he threatens the owners of the theatre with a curse if they let Carlotta sing instead of her.  She isn't afraid of ghosts and sings anyway.  The Phantom responds by causing the giant chandelier to crash down!  That thing is so ginormous.  He could have easily killed several people and he doesn't even care. 
 
Lon Chaney did his "Phantom" makeup himself.  He used shading to make his face look more skull-like. His nose was held back by hooks in the nose connected to a string.  It was the only way to give the illusion of having no nose and it made his actual nose bleed during filming!  But he did it anyway! He was such a boss.  When his mask is off, his ears are taped back, but whenever he's wearing the mask, his ears are clearly not taped back.
 

I always wondered why the Phantom was so butt ugly.  Watching different versions of the film didn't help because they give him a different story.  This film is closest to the novel, which I totally read and not the sparknotes.  The Phantom looks that way because he was born that way.  It's some kind of birth deformity, but it doesn't match anything in reality.

I was also surprised by the use of color in this film.  The most use of color was during the masquerade ball.  Sure, it's scattered, but I can tell they tried.  I like it when black & white films are tinted, such as the green for the basement, because it adds interest.  My co-film critic also enjoyed this aspect.  She's a nonverbal autistic girl and tries hard to find something to focus on, and with black & white films this is very hard.  The tinted scenes break up the monotony for her.  She also really liked Lon Chaney, because he is expressive with his hands.  I told her that this is because his parents also could not speak and used their hands.  She has since then used much more sign language to convey what she wants rather than screeching.  I am very happy about this.

Overall, both of us enjoyed watching this film and this is one of the better adaptations we have seen.  I will give it a 7/10.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Vacation

Today's our 5th wedding anniversary so my husband and I are going to the beach.  I will be back in a couple days.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Haunting (1963)

Today's film is The Haunting.  It was scary but I had a hard time buying the whole premise.  Dr. Markway is supposedly a scientist.  He's researching to prove the existence of the supernatural.  Along with him are Luke, the heir to the house, Theo, a psychic, and Eleanor, whose house experienced poltergeist phenomena.

But he doesn't do any research!  At night, a message appears that directly addresses one of the people in the house, Eleanor.  It says "Help Eleanor Come Home".  It just appears!  This is gold for someone out to prove the existence of the supernatural.  What does Markway do?  Just wipes it away.  Really?  Really? He didn't even take a picture of it.  He didn't take samples of the chalk used to write it.  What was used to write this message?  If it was truly a deceased member of the house, could they match the handwriting to prove it?  Why just wipe it away if your entire point of being there is finding proof of ghosts?

Another thing is the knocking.  Yes, it's spooky, but open the damn door to find out what it is.  Here's what I would do if I were studying a haunted house:

  • put motion cameras (like the kind we use for hunting) in strategic locations
  • take pictures of anything unusual
  • use video and audio recorders whenever necessary
  • take notes on everything

Now there is a theory that the house isn't haunted, but it's Eleanor's untapped psychic powers at work.  She was chosen because stones rained for days at her house.  Some people believe that poltergeists are actually the work of accidental telekinesis.  She's moving the objects with her mind with realizing it.  Since she's already at a stressful part of her life, this is making her even more stressed out because she doesn't understand what's going on.  The other character's back stories aren't explained much at all.  It would have been interesting to learn more about them.  One thing I liked was the filming and the use of camera angles.  It definitely added to the film.  I will give this a 6/10.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Today's film is Ace in the Hole.


Chuck Tatum (played by Kirk Douglas) is a big city news reporter that has managed to get himself fired from every job he's ever had.  His last chance is a podunk Albuquerque newspaper where nothing exciting happens.  He is assigned to cover a rattlesnake hunt, but on the way there, discovers something that could greatly help his career and put him back on the track to the big city.

Leo has been scouring the ancient Native American cliff dwellings for pottery and other artifacts to sell.  The area has long been abandoned and is falling apart.  Leo is trapped during a cave-in and cannot get out.  Unfortunately everyone uses this to their advantage.

Leo's rescue should be an easy one - all the engineers have to do is reinforce the walls so they can dig him out.  Chuck talks the sheriff into drilling from above, which is stupid, unnecessary and will take to long, and the sheriff forces the engineers to comply.  Now Chuck has enough time to milk this story as long as he can.


Equally unlikable is Leo's wife, Lorraine.  She sees Leo's entrapment as her chance to escape.  Chuck convinces her to stay because she can make money off him.  She listens, and soon the "tourists" are packing her tiny diner/gas station.  She's happy that's she's making money finally.  Chuck is really good at convincing people.  He convinced the Albuquerque newspaper to give him a job, convinced a sheriff over trained engineers how to do their job, and now convinced an unhappy wife not to leave.  Maybe Chuck should have been a lawyer.

Chuck brings the doctor to examine Leo a week later, who informs him that Leo will soon die if he's not rescued quickly.  Only then does Chuck realize what wrong he's inflicted on this man.  Leo could have been rescued already.  Chuck begs the engineers to go back to their original plan, but the constant pounding of the drill made it too unsafe.  He gets mad at the tourists and reporters who came to see where Leo was trapped, but it was he who brought them there in the first place.  He tries to make up for it but it is ultimately too late for both of them.  I have noticed that in every film noir, the male star dies.  I was wondering how it was going to happen if he's not the one trapped, but he dies alright.  This does not surprise me at all.

I think the reason why this film didn't do well is because all the characters are so unlikable.  But, it is a well told story.  I will give it a 7/10.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Today's film is Lawrence of Arabia. Wow! What an epic adventure film.  I sit here in awe of the amazing movie I have just watched.

I am most definitely not a historian.  I'm not, really. Especially when it comes to British history and especially not World War I.  I have no idea why the British would be in the Middle East to begin with unless they were planning to take over.  Oh, which they are because they say so towards the end of the film.  But first, the whole point of the film is the Lawrence, the only non-racist British person in the entire area is sent to speak to Prince Feisal (played by Alec Guinness, yeah) and later comes up with this great idea.

Before Lawrence reaches Prince Faisal, his guide is killed by Sherif Ali for drinking from the wrong well.  
His plan is to reach Turkey by way of a treacherous desert that is almost impossible to pass.  Yet, Lawrence is so confident that he encourages his entire troop of Arabs riding camels that yes, indeed, they can make it.  And they do!  Ali is so impressed that he burns Lawrence's stuffy British uniform and gives him a glorious white desert outfit.  It suits him and looks more comfortable, too.


Lawrence is followed around by two orphan boys, and being a genuinely nice guy, lets them even though the other adults don't like them.  Both of them pass away during the course of the film and Lawrence is torn up about it.  Also, he rescues a man in the desert only to have him killed as part of the continuing feuds.  Lawrence knew full well that he was going into war, but I don't think he expected what would really happen.  He was deeply affected by the deaths of these people and didn't even want to return.  

The part that affected me the most is when they scout the city of Daraa.  Lawrence is noted for his white skin and blue eyes, and after lashing out, is beaten.  When Ali finds him, Lawrence points to his skin and tells him that's all that matters.  It's the same way with the British officers being racist towards the Arabs.  Lawrence can never truly fit in because he's white.  Why does this affect me so much?  Because I'm Arab American and have blue eyes.  It's impossible to talk about my family or country without someone stopping me and saying, but you're white, or, your eyes are blue! They say a lot more than that, too.  Excuse me for not fitting into your Fox News definition of an Arab.


 Lawrence realized the consequences of racism and "fitting in" almost 100 years ago, and it really hasn't changed much since.  People will always judge each other by color because that's the first thing we see.

Lawrence changes a lot from the beginning of the film.  He is eager to help out and go on an adventure. While everyone is worried about crossing the desert, he is excited, and even refuses water when offered.  He puts out a match with his fingers for no reason.  Only after witnessing close people die does he take anything seriously.  After his encounter with the Turkish Bey, he is done with everything and wants to leave.  The British officers have to convince him to go to Damascus.

Even though I'm not a historian, I do know that the British were all about expanding their empire.  In 1607, they settled in Virginia, and landed on Plymouth Rock (Mass) in 1620.  So they've been doing this for a very long time.  Almost every inhabitable continent has been settled and conquered by the British.  Some countries gained their independence through revolutionary wars while others gained it through non-violent means.  So I find it a little hard to buy that Lawrence was so naive that he couldn't tell they were planning on taking over Arabia as well.  I mean why would the British even be in the area if they didn't have some interest in it?  And they built an entire canal - in the desert!

Yes, this film is amazing.  Don't even worry about how long it is, it is worth your time.  There's lots of excitement and drama.  One fun fact: despite its length, no women have any speaking roles.  Even so, the men do a fine job.  This white Arab gives it a 9/10.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre) 1979

Today's film is Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, which is a remake of Nosferatu (1922). I usually do not like remakes and this is no exception.  This was an almost shot-for-shot remake of the first one.  I don't care if it's some "homage".  However, Herzog actually could afford to use elements from the real Dracula story.  For example, this one had Dr. Van Helsing in it and the Count is named Dracula, not Orlok.

Since Dracula brought in the plague rats, wouldn't that ultimately affect him as well?  His victim's deaths are blamed on the plague.  But what if the villagers all really did come down with the plague, wouldn't he catch it too after drinking their blood?  Aren't there a whole host of diseases he could catch from drinking blood?

Johnathon's diary says that Dracula can transform into a wolf or a bat.  So why are his teeth exactly like a vampire bats?  The vampire movies of today have fangs that are simply larger, sharper versions of our eye teeth.  I think that is better to grab onto something.  A vampire bat's teeth is used to gently poke a hole and lap up the blood while the victim sleeps.  That doesn't sound scary at all.


Another question: What is the difference between the first light of day and the rest of the day?  Because it seems a lot brighter in the afternoon than in the morning.  However, Lucy (meaning "light" of all things) sacrifices herself to make sure Dracula is killed by the morning light. I thought killing the original vampire would cure the other vampires created by him.  But, Johnathon stays a vampire and rides off into the daylight.  The daylight.  Okay, only one vampire is able to handle the daylight and that is Blade.  My husband loves vampire films over any others so I have to watch a lot whether I like to or not.  I don't like a film that breaks the laws of vampirehood and this is one of them.

I can't say anything about the acting because everyone was just mimicking the style of the original actors of the film.  Dracula was exactly 100% like Count Orlok.  Had no style of his own, no interpretation, just like he was told to watch Orlok and copy him.  If you are going to make a remake of something, at least bring your own interpretation into it.  I feel like I just watched the same movie twice.  I rated the last one 4/10 so it is really only fair that I give it the same grade.  I have to.  Even if it was better made with better production values, if you really want to carbon copy a film, you deserve it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coraline (2009)

Today's animated feature is Coraline.  It's a film that I think I would have been too frightened to see as a child, but as an adult I really like it.  This film was directed by Henry Selick, who also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas.  However, instead of a sing-songy cute creepy movie, we get an actual creepy adventure where a lot happens in a short running time.  Still, it is the longest stop motion animation ever made.

Coraline and her parents move into an old house that's been converted into apartments.  Her parents write for a gardening catalog and are too busy writing to do anything else.  They have no time to fix up the place, most of the boxes are still unpacked, they often forget to buy food, have no time to actually do some gardening, and above all ignore Coraline at all times.

Bored and lonely, she decides to explore the area.  Her other neighbors are a pair of ancient retired actresses living in the basement.  They love their terriers, and once one of them dies, they stuff them and dress them as an angel.  The upstairs neighbor is an eccentric Russian who trains circus mice.  The main person she talks to is the owner of the house's grandson, Wybie (the only character not in the book).  She is mostly annoyed by him.  While exploring, she comes across a tiny door wallpapered over.


She eventually opens the door to find a brick wall.  Disappointed, she goes to sleep that night.  Then, she goes downstairs to the door to find a tunnel to an alternate reality!  Everyone in the house, including her parents are there.  The weirdest thing is that they all have black buttons for eyes.  Everyone exists to serve or entertain her in this world.  Her "other mother" cooks fantastic meals and scrumptious desserts.  Everything is so amazing here.

I'm not going to write everything that happens, but this world exists to lure her in and trap her, like a spiderweb traps a fly.  Coraline realizes this almost too late and manages to escape, only to find her parents trapped.  Earlier, she would have given up this world for the seemingly better one, but after finding out what is really going on, she heads back to the other one to rescue them.  Like in Alice in Wonderland, Coraline is helped out by an intelligent talking cat.  She will need all the help she can get to defeat the Other Mother and escape this world.  This was one of the best stop motion animations I have seen, it was creepy without being "cutesy creepy" like any Burton crapola and yet I feel my daughter would like it.  I wanted to see it first to make sure it wasn't awful.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Today's film is The Great Train Robbery.  It's a western made 110 years ago!

The premise is pretty simple.  A group of men go to rob a train, but first they tie up the telegraph operator in the station.  They shoot a few people, who die by sticking their arms straight up in the air above their heads, then falling over.  They get everything they came for and escape to their hideout in the woods.

Meanwhile, the telegraph operator wakes up and uses his hands to hoist himself onto his chair to send out a message.  Then, he remembers he's supposed to be tied up so he quickly holds his hands behind his back like I wouldn't notice.  A girl helps finish "untying" him so he can go get help.  He does, and a posse chases down the evil gang.  The final scene is the best.  It shows a close up of a cowboy who shoots straight at the screen.  This was one of the first films ever made, so the audience was like, oh that was a nice story, OH NO that guy is shooting at me!! That would have been really scary.  I like how the filmmakers thought: hey let's put in a guy shooting at them, that'll scare them!  They have the same sense of humor I do.  I will give this film a 7/10.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stand By Me (1986)

Today's film is Stand By Me.  I think I'm in the wrong demographic for this film.  Everyone who I asked said they liked it because it's nostalgic.  It came out the year I was born! It's not nostalgic at all for me.  And, when I was twelve, my friends and I never acted this way.  These boys are so whiny and bogged down by their problems.
 
This film is so melodramatic it's not even funny.  The whole point is that they walk two days to find a dead body in the woods.  Then when they get there, they don't even take it to the police like they planned.  They decide to call in an anonymous tip.  Well you could have done that without walking two days!
 

The main character, Gordie, is a promising writer. His story is narrated by the adult Gordie reminiscing about his childhood.  I'm not sure how great of a writer he is, but the only story he actually tells is about a fat guy who gets everyone to vomit on each other. I'm so glad I stuck around to hear that fascinating tale.

The best part of the film is the acting.  I have not seen many films starring mostly children that was so well acted.  In fact, the four main boys moved on to new roles and are still acting today .  Gordie was played by Wil Wheaton, who in the following year became Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: TNG.  Plus, he's Wil Wheaton! Corey Feldman did other good movies from the 1980's including The Goonies and The Lost Boys. Jerry O'Connell (who played the chunky Verne and grew up hot) has done a ton of TV series, and River Phoenix (who did the best performance of any of them) also had more films before passing away in 1993.  This film is great if you'd like to see a film starring children that doesn't overly suck.  I will give it a 6/10.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Unknown (1927)

Today's film is The Unknown, a moody dark piece starring Lon Chaney as the villain.  He plays Alonzo, an armless knife thrower/gun shooter in the circus.  He's in love with Nanon, the circus owner's daughter.  Unfortunately, so is the strongman, Malabar.

Joan Crawford is stunningly beautiful as Nanon.  She's afraid of men's hands and often comes to Alonzo for comfort.  What she doesn't know is that he really does have hands and is just pretending. I know.  Alonzo's friend, Cojo, is the only one who knows his secret and tells him that if he really wants to marry Nanon, she's going to find out he has arms eventually.


I felt bad for Malabar because he seems like a genuinely nice person.  He's constantly rejected by the disgusted Nanon for the sole reason of him having arms.  I'm glad she got over her fear though.

Alonzo decides that the best course of action is to blackmail a surgeon into cutting his arms off.  While he is recuperating, Nanon gets over her fear of hands and agrees to marry the handsome Malabar.  Take a look at this guy, he is really nice looking and strong:


Alonzo finds this out while visiting Nanon after his surgery.  It's not like he can put his arms back on now!  While Lon Chaney may be the man of a thousand faces, a lot of them do border on overacting.  He ranges from disbelief at Nanon's loss of fear of hands, upset that he had the surgery, and hatred for his rival Malabar.  He plots to use his next strongman act against him to cut off his arms/kill him.  Can he succeed? No, Malabar is unhurt while Alonzo is killed accidentally by one of the horses in the act.  Without him to come between them, Malabar and Nanon can live happily ever after.

I often enjoy watching films about the circus, and this is a good introduction to Todd Browning's films.  A few years later, he will have another film involving circus life called Freaks.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008)

My co-film critic has decided that today's animated feature is The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning.  Now, we all know one thing about direct-to-video sequels from Disney: They suck.  But not this one. This one they actually put effort into and is a cute story.

The movie starts off with Ariel and her six sisters as young children, back when everyone was happy.  Their mother, Athena, loved music and sang to them often.  They spent much of their time on the rocks above water.  One day, a pirate ship passed through, ran aground, and crushed Athena in the process.  This explains why Triton hated humans so much in the original movie, and why he forbade everyone from going to the surface.

Triton was so distraught with his music-loving wife's death, that he completely banned music in the kingdom.  Fast forward ten years later, when Ariel is about 13 years old, and not interested in boys yet.  But some of her sisters are! One good thing about this movie is that we see more of her sisters and their unique personalites.  We also see how Ariel meets Flounder.

Now, one thing about the songs in this film: they are terrible.  The sisters' governess, Marina, is played by Sally Field, who has multiple songs to sing.  She should not be a singer ever.  It's worse because every time Azalea hears a song, she grabs my chin and lip and signs for me to sing.  I really really do not want to sing any song from this movie.  But sometimes I have to.  For a movie in which music is banned, there are a lot of songs.  But Azalea really likes it, and it is much better than any sequel I've seen.  So I will give it a 6/10.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Thin Man (1934)

Today's film is The Thin Man.  I thought it was pretty funny.  What I liked most was the chemistry between Nick and Nora.  Also I like mysteries that I have trouble with otherwise it's too easy and I get bored.

So, the Thin Man isn't actually Nick I thought, it's Clyde Wynant.  He wanted to give his daughter, Dorothy some bonds as a wedding present.  Turns out that his mistress has gotten rid of them.  When she is murdered, Wynant is the most obvious suspect.  He hasn't been seen since he left on a trip and closed up shop.

Nick and Nora have just gotten married and moved back to New York, and since Nora is an heiress, they have nothing better to do than drink and party.  Nick is handsome, rich, smart, and drinks nonstop.  Like a 1930's Tony Stark.  The chemistry between him and Nora seems completely natural, like I could buy them as being a couple, which is rare from a film this old.  I liked it when Nick pointed to her chest so she would look down and he could smack her on the rose with his finger.  Nora convinces Nick to take the case because she feels it would be exciting.  It's a good thing she did because he did figure it out.


The problem with mysteries like this is that there are too many people and situations for me to keep track of.  Plus, with the movie being black and white and every woman having the same hairstyle, makes it even harder for me.  Nick decides the best course of action is to invite all the suspects to a dinner party and accuse them there.  It worked, but that doesn't sound very smart to me.

The Thin Man is funny and quick-paced, and features a refreshingly honest chemistry between the two main characters, Nick and Nora.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

November and December are the craziest months for work, so I won't be posting as much as I'd like.  I also know it's the 5th of November, but I won't be posting the movie V for Vendetta.  Today's film is A Streetcar Named Desire.

I have read the play many times in school before I watched this film.  It's a simple story if I break it down.  A woman who gets off on violence and excitement has a violent exciting husband.  Her crazy sister moves in after losing her job and home.  Husband and sister gets on each other's nerve, while the woman, who is pregnant, has to deal.  Sister becomes increasingly neurotic until she breaks down and is sent to a rest home in the country.  Now she can get the proper care for her mental illness.  The woman, her husband, and new baby live happily ever after.

So, the husband, Stanley, has a short temper and has fits of rage where he yells and throws things.  He threw their radio straight out of the window.  He can even be abusive to his pregnant wife, Stella.  Her sister, Blanche comes down, acts all hoity-toity and puts him down every chance she gets all while drinking all his alcohol.  She feels that Stanley is beneath them.  So why did Stella choose to marry him and leave her stately plantation?

Because this:

Also this:

And some of this:


Forgot what I was writing about.  Oh yeah, a film based on a Tennessee Williams' play.  Growing up in the South, we study his plays in school extensively.  It was nice to see a play that was close to his vision.  There were many cuts in the name of "censorship" aka "taking away our first amendment rights" so I suggest reading the play too because it's great.  I liked how even though the characters often don't make the right choices, nobody is an outright villain.  I can see everyone's point of view in this film. Yes, in this film Stella leaves Stanley.  However, she literally just had a baby and Stanley is going to have to be a part of the child's life too.  Besides, she obviously gets off on violence, so you know she is going to go back there really soon.  Hollywood can say whatever it needs to say to satisfy its pansy moral code, I know the truth.

One thing that perturbed me: Nobody had a Louisiana accent.  My in-laws are all from the New Orleans area and the surrounding countryside/swamp.  They visit often, way more than they need to.  Trust me that nobody in this entire film sounds anything like them.  People from Louisiana have a more distinct accent than most Southerners.  The only one who comes close is Blanche's old fashioned Southern Belle voice.  She actually sounds more like she has the old fashioned accent of someone from a Georgia or South Carolina plantation though, not Mississippi.  Her character shows the perfection of William's writing.  Her character is both dramatic and believable.  Her character belongs to the changing South.  She's broke and lost her plantation yet still keeps smug superior attitude.  She wants love and sex but clings to her quaint values and drives men away.  I can see old members of my family in a character like Blanche.  This film wouldn't be the same without Vivien Leigh's performance as Blanche. I will give this film an 8/10.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ai no korîda (In the Realm of the Senses) (1976)

Today's film is In the Realm of the Senses, which is about non-stop sex.  There's barely any plot, no character development, just sex.  I enjoy watching sex online just as much as the next person, but coming from the country that brought us tentacle porn, I expected something less boring.  There's no foreplay at all, they just stick it in and start fucking like rabbits.  This goes on forever.  Every scene they're in they have to have sex.  They don't even eat the entire film.  Sex burns calories! Then, the man finally has to pee and the girl tells him to pee inside of her.  Wat.




Then, more boring stuff happens and there's even more sex. And they still won't eat. Then the man is dead, so the girl cuts off his junk and the movie stops abruptly and a guy yells at us that this is a true story.  I don't need to be yelled at.  How about instead of two hours of boring fucking, the filmmakers could include the part about her walking about Tokyo carrying around his junk?  How did the police who found her react? What happens next?  The filmmakers had a chance to make an interesting true story and didn't take it.  For wasting my time making me watch bad porn, I'm giving this film a 3/10.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Today's film is The Legend of Hell House.  I think haunted house movies are some of the best spooky movies. Today's film is no different.  A bit spooky, and a bit mysterious.
Hell House is actually a mansion owned by Belasco, a sexually depraved rich individual.  The house is so haunted that whenever someone tries to stay the night, they either go insane or get killed.  15 years before, a group of scientists and psychics stayed to figure out what was happening.  Is it something that can be proven by science, or is it truly something supernatural?  Everyone from this group, except a 15 year old child genius medium, died or went crazy.


Now, an old rich guy purchased the house and wants to use it to find out the secrets of life after death.  He hires a physicist, a young medium, and the only survivor of the last group from 15 years ago.  Most of it is the physicist arguing that nothing supernatural is happening and that he can prove it and the medium telling him that it is ghosts and she can prove it.  Meanwhile increasingly weirder things start happening.  Are there really spirits inside the house?  And why did everyone die last time, and will this group be safe?  Of course they're not safe.

As far as haunted house movies go, this one is very enjoyable yet has a silly ending.  It didn't have to rely solely on special effects since everyone's acting was very good.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mad Max (1979)

Today's film is Mad Max.  I don't think I know enough about cars to fully appreciate this film.
 
The whole film is about dirty bikers in the Australian Outback and their constantly being chased by the MFP (state troopers).  The best and most handsome of the MFP is Max.  About 80% of this film is car chases, which is alright by me.  The bikers chase and run over Max's wife and baby and now Max is all kinds of mad.
 

I didn't see this as a film I 
definitely had to see before I die.  It's a simple film.  I didn't learn anything from it, I didn't feel for any of the characters, but I thought it was a fun movie with some exciting scenes.  I don't think it would have been so memorable if Mel Gibson wasn't in it. So I will give it a 5/10.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Rescuers (1977)

Today's animated feature is The Rescuers.  It's one of the few Disney films based on a children's book rather than a fairy tale.  This is also the last Disney film that Don Bluth worked on before he left to create his own animation company.

I didn't care too much for this film.  I thought a lot of it was too dark for my child, but it wouldn't be too bad for an older child.  I thought it was funny when the little girl they were supposed to rescue asked them why they didn't bring anyone big, like the police.  That's what I thought too!


Evinrude is a boat motor!  The dragonfly who drives the leaf boat is named Evinrude.  He acts as the boat's motor.  Evinrude is a boat motor!  It has taken me 20 years to get this joke.  This must be what it feels like when people solve a rubik's cube.

Anyway, it's not my favorite Disney animation, but it's superior to anything else they made since the 1960s.  Also, the box office revenue was one of their highest and showed that the animation company could make it without Walt Disney, who passed away a few years prior.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Friday, October 25, 2013

El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive) 1973

Today's film is The Spirit of the Beehive.  I...I don't understand it.  I don't know what it's trying to say.

In 1940s Spain, a town gets the movie Frankenstein and watches it.  A little girl and her sister become obsessed with it.  The older sister, Ana, tells the younger sister, that the Frankenstein monster wasn't real, but later says he is real and is a spirit.  They play by an abandoned farmhouse and well where they believe Frankenstein monster lives.  Meanwhile, their dad has some sort of chicken wire/glass beehive that he watches.  And that's the entire film.  Nothing happens.  It's not a bad film; just nothing happens.  Many of the characters are not explained and the beehive is talked about but what does that have to do with Frankenstein? I'm so lost.  I'm giving this film a 6/10.