Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf) (1968)

This film has been mistakenly placed in the Horror category.  I am very disappointed. It is not a horror, it is more of a drama.  What is horror?  Strictly speaking, it has two definitions:
1. An intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.
2. A thing causing such a feeling.

There is nothing to shock us. Nothing to disgust us. (Good because I don't like gory horror).  And, above all, nothing to cause fear. Not once did I feel unsafe or uneasy.  It's not a bad film per se, it's just not a horror film. I will therefore tag it as drama.

The main feeling of this film is isolation.  The couple is alone on an island, surrounded by only their imagination, or it is something more?  The man, Johan, mentions that he felt sick and we learn he has a fever. That is when all the weird stuff starts to happen. So there you go. The hallucinations are caused by his fever.  Also, he refuses to sleep, and keeps his poor pregnant wife, Alma, awake all night with his paranoid blabbering. That lady is pregnant! She needs proper sleep, exercise, and a good diet.  That man is keeping her awake to the detriment of her health and her baby's health.  Sleep deprivation has been known to cause many problems, especially visual hallucinations, and a pregnant woman does not deserve that kind of stress.  But as the movie progresses, we learn that he really doesn't care about her at all, so why should he mind keeping her up with his nonsense at 4 in the morning? This movie was obviously written by a man.

Then we see him leaving the cottage to go to the castle, which supposedly is full of people, but certain shots reveal that they are only his hallucinations.  Laying on a slab is a hot naked lady, which we have already learned is his former lover.  So he's going to cheat with her?  I don't care if that is a real lady or not. Cheating on your pregnant wife has got to be the lowest thing a man can do.

After watching this, I immediately went to the comments section to see what others thought. One comment said, "No ingenuous criticism needed here. This film is Bergman. That's enough for anyone's appreciation." Excuse me? I'll criticize any film I want. And what's soo great about Bergman that I should automatically love his films?  I don't care who directs a film. I don't care who writes it.  If I don't like it, I'm going to tell everybody.  I seriously do not get what is so amazing about Bergman and why so many people practically worship him and his boring movies.  I give this film a 5/10.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Third Man (1949)

An American dime-novel writer named Holly travels to Austria to meet his friend that has a job for him. He discovers his friend has been killed when he was struck by an oncoming car.  However, the story that his friend's neighbor tells him and the police report don't add up.  Something is off. The neighbor tells him there was a third man present at the accident scene, whereas the police report only says two. One says he died instantly, the other doesn't. What's going on?

Think about this, if the name of the film is The Third Man, the police don't believe it, the body was buried quickly with a closed casket funeral, and the only real witness was murdered, who do you think the third man is? Did people of the olden days not have any sense of plausibility? Or can they simply not see something huge right in front of their faces? That would explain how the Titanic sunk. I do not understand how these can be spoilers or twists, especially in film noirs. It is just too obvious.

There is no soundtrack or score in this film. There is just a man playing a zither. The entire time. A lot of times it is delightful, but it can take too much away from the tense moments in the film.

The only part I did not like was when Holly arranged a meeting with the Third Man. They end up walking to a Ferris Wheel. I am terrified of Ferris Wheels.  I was like ... 'Oh no, please don't go inside it' and they did! They went inside! And then they went up! The Third Man pointed out the window and noticed that the people look like ants and that he didn't care that he was killing innocent sick people with his watered-down medicine.  The pure evil of this man and his apathy towards others was magnified by the sheer horror of the Ferris Wheel.  I mean this man's water-down medicine was killing young children, whose lives could have easily been saved if they had gotten the proper care.  

The Ferris Wheel scene was just too scary for me. But other than that I did enjoy watching this film. I give it a 6/10.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould (1993)

Before I watched this, I had no idea who Glenn Gould was.  Now I know that he was a concert pianist that inexplicably gave up performing live when he turned 32.  So instead of presenting a full-length narrative film of his life, the filmmakers decided to show us 32 scenes that give us small glimpses into his life and personality.  Evidently he is an eccentric man who speaks in circles with unnecessarily large words to make him sound more intelligent than he really is.  He seems rather insecure to me; or maybe he just has some autistic or antisocial tendencies, which his obsession with classical music and radio, his manner of speaking and interacting with other people (he insists on interviewing by phone) help lead me to this conclusion.

Most of the scenes are him  listening to music. I don't know if it is actual recordings of him playing or not.  He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the music and deriving a deep emotional response to the music, and good for him.  I do not see how anyone can feel such emotion from listening to music.  I don't feel anything at all. It's just a piano playing. I don't get it.

"Boo hoo hoo, I have such an easy job just sitting on my ass playing piano all day and I get to travel the world, but I'm having an existential crisis and need to quit."  You know what, Fuck you for being self-absorbed and for making me listen to classical piano music for an hour and a half.  The ability to play an instrument does not make you smarter or better than anyone else in the world. I give this movie 5/10.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scarface (1983)

First, you get the drugs. Then, you get the money. Then, you get the power. Then, you get the women.

That's the quote I remember most (besides him hollering "Say Hello to my little friend" and raising hell) from Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino with a terrible Cuban accent.  Seriously, has he ever been to Florida?
Tony (Scarface) starts off as a lowly dishwasher, but rises to the top of the drug trade selling cocaine.  But with that much money comes corruption.  He tries to shield his sister from the effects of his evil ways. But there is so much drama and violence, and lots of bloodshed.  He destroys himself and everything around him with his greed.  And yes, I did have a poster of Scarface in my college apartment like everyone else. I give this a 6/10.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Airplane! (1980)

Airplane! - A gripping dramatic thriller about a troubled flight.  As the flight passengers and crew succumb to food poisoning, there is a desperate need for somebody - anybody - to land the plane safely so they can get to a hospital.  Unfortunately the only person capable of flying the plane is an ex-pilot suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder. Can he overcome his fears in time to save everyone? Is there any hope for them? I just want to say, Good Luck, We're all counting on you.

I'm just kidding. It's the funniest movie of all time.  There is a pun or gag every 20 seconds or so.  If you are ever upset, you can watch this movie and feel so much better.  Surely, you can't be serious. Yes, I am, and don't call me Shirley. This movie is so much better than spoof films of today.  What I wrote in the beginning is the literal plot of the movie. The plotline serves as a base for all the gags, instead of many comedies of today where it's nothing but gags and a bare plot. A lot of the lines are served in a deadpan manner, and the seriousness of the tone makes it funnier. They're not trying to force the humor. And then there's Johnny.


Johnny is one of my favorite movie characters. He is ridiculous.  I love it when they're looking at the newspapers, and Johnny yells, "There's a sale at Penney's!!" 

Then, they need more lights on the runway so they dump a truck full of lamps on top of it. This movie is full of puns. I will give it a 9/10.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Artist (2011)

Today's film is The Artist.  George Valentin is a silent film action star that is very successful. He meets Peppy, who is a fan who eventually becomes a star in her own right.  As technology progresses from silent films to films with talking, or "talkies", her fame surpasses his.  Will he be able to adapt to the ever-changing world of film, or will he hold tight to his nostalgia?
So this is mostly a silent film. I've seen lots of silent films, and most of them I would not consider spectacular. This one is.  Even people who would not normally ever watch a silent film will enjoy this.  I heard a lot of smack-talk during the Oscars, "How dare a silent film win in the day and age. That's so pretentious." Bitch do you even know what that word means?  A film is meant to tell a story.  The story is of a man who loses everything because he can't cope with change.  The change just happens to be the transition from silent films to ones with sound. Honestly, there were silent film actors who could not make this change.  So the obvious choice is to tell his story from his point of view, which is a silent film. This makes perfect sense. Besides, it's not entirely silent.

George starts to lose it when silent films go out of style, and his wife asks him why he refuses to talk.  He hears all the normal sounds you would hear in a room, such as a telephone ringing, and it grows louder and louder. He loses his possession to auction, and later loses his home.  Peppy, who is now successful, invites him to stay at her house, which is of course his old house, so that has to be really awkward.  He goes into a room with everything covered in white sheets. As he lifts the sheets up, he discovers that all of his old stuff was bought at auction by her. That scene was so creepy.  But Peppy makes up for it by trying really hard to get him back in the acting business. I will give this movie a 9/10.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling stars as a nameless driver.  He is a non-stop workaholic who works as a stunt driver, a getaway driver, a race car driver, and a mechanic.  Also, he wears a bitchin scorpion jacket.

Most of the shots are focused on him. He is sooo handsome.  He meets a lady in his apartment building and becomes friends with her and her son.

Things get complicated when her husband returns home from jail. But, Driver is such a nice guy that he becomes friends with him, too, and helps him with his money problems.  The husband has no choice but to rob a store for his boss, so Driver does what he does best and acts as his getaway driver.  But things are not as easy as they'd hoped, and now it is Driver's duty to take revenge and fuck shit up.

This movie was unique and had many unexpected moments.  I will give it an 8/10.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

I had to take algebra class.  I really didn't want to, I didn't understand it, and it was terribly boring. However, I had to finish it among other classes in order to graduate. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the 1001 list's version of algebra class. I give this movie a 3/10.

The first 30 minutes were nothing but people saying that there was a mole. Thank you, I heard you the first time. There's also a bunch of chess pieces with people's faces taped to them. That might mean something to me if I had any idea how to play chess.  Then, an ugly lady named Connie said she was "seriously underfucked" and I threw up.

Then, it shows some dead people, but it doesn't explain anything. Everything in the movie is made of dull greys and browns. The acting is muted, quiet-like. It is boring to look at.  It is boring to listen to.

This movie shows what we knew all along, that the Cold War was just fearmongering for the people.  Today we have CNN and Fox to do that for us. Nothing has changed. Gary said someone was tortured by the Americans. The American government still tortures people.  We see a little bit of violence in the movie, but other than that, this is what happened:

Monday, April 22, 2013

The King's Speech (2010)

I loved everything about this movie. The cinematography, the acting, the true nature of the story, and the wonderful chemistry between the two stars.

Lionel Logue is a speech therapist. He has a job to do and wastes no time on formalities.  So when the King of England shows up at his office needing help, he's not going to bow or say 'your highness' or anything, he's going to get to work. However King George VI, or Bertie, never really expected to be king. He has a speech impediment and stammers something awful whenever he makes a speech. How is anyone supposed to take him seriously as a leader?

Bertie had hoped his brother would become king instead, but he abdicated the throne for his true love.  So now Bertie is definitely going to be king.  So he really needs Lionel's help in order to speak properly.  Lionel has some rather unorthodox methods, and there is a lot of tension in the beginning stemming from their differences in status.

But soon they become best friends and through hard work, Bertie carefully works through his stammer to make important speeches during the war.  Every time he made a speech, Lionel was right there with him. Film gets a 10/10.

Films of the 2010's Week!

This week we are celebrating recently made films, from 2010 til now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Delicatessen (1991)

What on Earth did I just watch?  I see a yellowish tinted sky and dark buildings. No green grass, no blue sky or white fluffy clouds. Just a sulfur-like yellow permeating the air.  There are no animals to be seen. In fact, the movie focuses on one building, and we never see its tenants leave!  The building is owned by a butcher, but since there are no animals left he prepares humans as meals!

I learned that this is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic world from the DVD case. It does not mention anywhere in the movie about the end times or apocalypse.  To me, it looks like an alternate dimension 1950's, when the constant threat of nuclear warfare actually came true.  The furniture, appliances, TVs, and even their clothes are definitely from the mid-1950's. 

The trouble starts when an ex-clown comes to the delicatessen to answer a want ad.  The want ad is really a trap so the butcher can prepare him as food. However, he and the butcher's daughter become close and she does everything in her power to keep him safe from her father. She enlists the help of the under sewer people to rescue him.

This movie is funny, but it's a weird funny. This movie is so weird. I give it a 6/10. I did like that once the danger had passed, the sky turned blue again.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Not impressed. It's the same werewolf legend we've all heard of. Nothing has been changed dramatically, nothing new is offered. Two Americans go to the English countryside and are attacked by a werewolf. One of them becomes a werewolf himself and goes on a rampage. That. is. it.

The make-up and the actual transformation was well done for the 80's but other than that this film is not worth watching. I give it a 4/10.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

I let my daughter, Azalea, choose what movie to watch for Fun Friday and she picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I had not seen this film since I was little.

What I enjoyed was the overall darkness of the story.  The evil queen is so jealous of the beautiful Snow White that she sets out to kill her.  Actually, she asks the Magic Mirror who is the fairest in the land. Fair means fair-skinned, and obviously someone with skin as white as snow would be fairer than anyone else. But today we take it to mean beautiful.  However, I would much rather stay my fair-skinned self than go to a tanning bed and turn orange.

The queen orders her huntsman to lead Snow White into the woods and kill her. But to make sure she's dead, the queen tells him to put her heart in a box.  Not only does he have to kill the most beautiful person in all the land, he has to saw her chest open and slice out her dead heart. That is the most metal thing I have ever heard.

Snow White flees for her life into the woods.  This part was the scariest for me when I was little - the scary woods with the eyeballs trying to get her. She comes across an empty yet dirty cottage and does what any normal person would do - clean it with her animal friends while singing. It turn out that the cottage doesn't belong to orphan children as she thought, it's owned by seven dwarves. The dwarves spend their entire days mining for diamonds and rubies, yet live in a modest cottage and all sleep in the same room.  I think it would be okay to at least do an add-on or maybe a guest house.

Every element or cliche that we associate with fairytale princesses stems from this movie. She sings about her dreams, her need for companionship, her ability to summon woodland creatures to help her do chores, her naivety, and her ability to fall in love with someone after meeting them only once.

The audio/video syncing was perfection. Today we have computer animated films, so the music and words are just programmed. However, they managed to perfectly sync up the audio to a hand drawn cartoon all the way back in 1937. It was flawless. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Le Trou (1960)

Today's film is Le Trou. It's two hours of men meticulously digging their way through prison and it sounds like a construction zone. The prison shown in France is a lot different than the prisons here in America.  The prisoners are wearing their own clothes and not orange or pink jumpsuits, they all eat in the cells and not in a common area cafeteria, and the cell door is an actual door instead of bars so the prisoners have plenty of privacy. And, they often get packages of fresh groceries from their relatives. However, the guard uses the same knife to check every single item of food and that kind of cross-contamination is gross. For example, he slices through the sausage, then stirs through the pudding. I don't want sausage flavor in pudding. Thanks guard, you just ruined that guy's pudding.

The escape plan is masterminded by Roland. I am pretty sure he's a ninja. He hides from the guards with another man standing on his shoulders, and manages to lightly step around a pillar to avoid them. He also Macgyvers a periscope out of a toothbrush and mirror. He also makes dummies out of cardboard parts.

Are you seeing this? This is genius!

I do like how the movie has no music. It provides realism and increases the suspense of whether they get caught by the guards.  However, the suspense is greatly lessened because my daughter is sitting on my lap singing, so everyone's movie experience is different.

People back then were a lot skinnier than they are today. Try remaking this movie in 2013 America. Not happening. The realism of the film was impressive though and gets a 7/10. The prisoners were so careful not to get caught. However, they spent days digging in a concrete tunnel. Did they really expect the guards not to hear them?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

The turkeys are out wandering the fields near my home, performing their dances for spring. It is time to hunt, and a time to sing a traditional Southern song:

Turkey Hunting 101
Shoot that bird trying to get him some
pump his head full of lead
Turkey Hunting 101

Why hunt turkeys? Because they make for a delicious sandwich? But, what if you were hunting something else? What if you were hunting ... people?! This is the story of Henry.
The most remarkable aspect of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer as compared to other horror films of the 70's and 80's is the title character's normality. Henry isn't a mask-wearing monster or a supernatural demon waiting to strike you in the darkness. He's a normal human being (with obvious mental and personality defects) and if he was walking down the street in broad daylight you could not tell him from anyone else.

Henry isn't the greatest movie, film-wise. It's obviously got a cheaper, more late night tv-movie type feel, which does provide a more realistic feel to it. Especially when Henry and Otis procure a video camera and film their murders. So there is a feeling that, yes, this happened in the 80's, and this is real. A lot of the murders are not shown at all. We hear the screams of the victim and are shown an image of their dead, mangled body.

And then there's the tragic heroine, Becky, who tries to change him for the better with her love. Henry does show signs of caring when he protects her from her brother Otis' attack. Becky goes away with him afterward because she loves him. She does not realize that no amount of love or fairytale magic will cure Henry of his severe psychological problems. She suffers the same fate that we all expect her to. Film gets a 6/10.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Harold and Maude (1971)

Young Harold is completely obsessed with death. He often fakes his suicides in elaborately staged hoaxes. His mother begs him to be normal and takes him to a therapist. But he doesn't care. One day while visiting a funeral, he meets an old woman. This woman turns out to be Maude, who has a contagious zeal for life.
Yes, normally one would expect a teenager to have a zeal for life and an old person to contemplate death, but here it is the opposite, and that's what draws this two disparate people to each other. I thought it was funny when Harold falls in love with her and the priest tries to talk him out of marrying her. Because she's old. He was trying to describe every reason without saying the words "dry old people vagina" but you could totally tell by the look on his face that's what he was thinking.
What they could have done a better job with is the soundtrack. There seemed to be only one song in the whole film played over and over. And it got stuck in my head.  If you want to sing out, sing out! And if you want to be free, be free! 

I truly enjoyed this movie. Love has the power to bring such different personalities together. I will give this a 7/10.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Seven Chances (1925)

Today's film selection is Seven Chances.  Buster Keaton plays a bachelor, James 'Jimmie' Shannon, who stands to inherit $7 million dollars if he can marry someone by his 27th birthday. Why did I choose this movie? Because today is my 27th birthday!

Jimmie and his work partner need money for work or else they'll get in trouble. While pondering their financial misfortune, they decide on the obvious choice of ditching work to go to the country club. Little do they know someone with good news is tailing them. He finally gets to meet them and shares the good news of Jimmie's inheritance.

He asks his girl Mary to marry him. She says yes, but when she finds out that they must wed today, he tells her he is going to receive a lot of money if he marries some girl today.  Mary then surprises us by refusing to marry for money.  She loves the guy already, she accepted his offer before she knew about the money, and he proved himself to not think before speaking. Most husbands don't. So I don't see a problem here.

The three men go somewhere and Jimmie points out seven girls he knows. I am impressed he remembered all their names because all of them look exactly alike. He manages to strike out with every single woman. '20s humor abounds when he deftly avoids proposing to a Jewish woman and a black woman, but approaches a white girl in the barbershop, not realizing it's a dummy head. He goes backstage to a woman's show, not realizing but it's too late that the woman is acutally Julian Eltinge, a famous female impersonator who was not pleased to be proposed to.

His friends print an ad in the local paper telling of his predicament. Meanwhile, on his way to the church Jimmie "proposed to everyone wearing a skirt, including a Scotchman." But that's okay, he was white. Soon he has hundreds of potential brides vying for him. But he finally gets the message from Mary and heads off to her house.

The scene fade-ins and fade-outs are very well done. If anyone thinks that silent films are slow, boring and not worth watching, needs to watch a comedy like this. The scene where all the potential brides chase him through the football field was funny. Plus that dude can run. Movie gets a 6/10.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Laura (1944)

So much happens in this movie! Also there are too many people. I can't keep track of how many people Laura is seeing, and how many people are jealous of her.

At the start of the movie, Laura has been killed in her apartment by a shotgun blast. The detective investigating the case is named Mcpherson and he is incredibly hot. I can look past his use of stupid 40's slang because...damn.  He goes to see Waldo Lydecker, one of her lovers, to talk about the case and he welcomes him into the bathroom. Waldo isn't even bothered by the fact she was killed; he's happy just to chit-chat in the bathtub. He even says that he would have been insulted if he were not considered a suspect in the murder case. That man is shady-tree full stop.

We then meet Laura's other lover/fiance, Shelby.  I didn't notice him until I heard his unmistakeable voice. Shelby is Vincent Price! Well that settles it. We all know Vincent Price is a perfectly normal person who has never harmed another human being. So he can't possibly be the killer.

More stuff goes on and gets more confusing until Laura returns to her apartment! Wait, how did she do that? It turns out that it was only someone who resembled her that got shot.  Shelby took another girl into Laura's apartment, and she was shot in the doorway while wearing Laura's nightgown.  Forensic evidence wasn't as good back then as it is today, and besides her face was...blown off, so it would have been hard to identify the body.

Did Laura kill the other girl in a jealous rage? What about the creepy lady we saw at the party? No, it's the shady-tree guy of course. Film noirs are notorious for their predictability. Film gets a 7/10 for being entertaining and not terrible.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

In December 2011, I found a copy of the first book of Scott Pilgrim, titled Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.  I decided to read all six books before I watched the movie.  The books are full of interesting characters, odd situations and plenty of video game references.

In short, the story consists of Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old living in Canada who dates a high-schooler.  He has been seeing visions of a beautiful girl and finds that she is an American working for Amazon. She roller skates to deliver her packages which is rather inefficient if you think about it, and uses the subspace in Scott's head as a shortcut.

Scott introduces himself to her at a party. She tells him her name is Ramona Flowers and he later discovers that in order to be her boyfriend, he will have to defeat her seven evil exes.  This forms the basis of his adventures throughout the six books.

However, the director tried to cram all six books into one film. The result is a glorious mess. Since it's a six-part series, it should have been at least two or three movies. There is too much going on.

I am so glad I finished reading all the books because otherwise I would be so lost. There are far too many characters, too many odd situations, and all of the cute video games jokes and references are completely lost. The overall effect of the story, of one man overcoming incredible odds (like fighting hot twins and a half-ninja) disappear because everything is happening so fast.  There's not enough time in the film to properly introduce each evil ex, learn their backstory and what they mean to Ramona, and then have Scott fight them. Also the whole subplot about Ramona and Scott traveling through subspace is totally lost. Sure they travel at the end, but it is hardly explained.  If you want to watch this film, you are going to have to read the books, otherwise you literally will have no clue what is going on. I give this film a 3/10.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Up in Smoke (1978)

It's time for a fun movie and this week's selection is Up in Smoke.

Cheech and Chong look the same age now as they did in this movie.  I guess what happens in video games is true - once you reach max level, you stop leveling. Cheech picks up Chong while he is hitchhiking and together they go on a whirlwind adventure to find some grass.

Ironically they obtain an entire van made of grass and they don't even realize it.  They pick up some hot yet annoying chicks and join a battle of the bands.  The cops are never far behind them but we know nothing bad is going to happen to Cheech and Chong. This movie is important as it basically started its own genre of films - the stoner comedy. Movies like The Big Lebowski wouldnt exist if it weren't for this film. But still the film could have been better. Therefore I am giving it a 6/10.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Freaks (1932)

Today I'm reviewing Freaks, directed by Tod Browning.  A long time ago, people with oddly shaped bodies could find work at circus sideshows, where curious people could gawk at them.  The curious people only see them as exhibits, but this film goes much deeper and we get to know them as regular people. We see these "freaks" make friendships, fall in love, enjoy dinner together, and even celebrate the birth of a child. It is impressive to see a man with no arms roll his own cigarette.
The only monster in this circus is the beautiful trapeze artist, Cleopatra.  She discovers that one of the little people, Hans, stand to inherit a great deal of money, so she decides to marry him and then kill him for his inheritance  When I first saw Hans, I thought 'He is so tiny!' 

So Cleopatra starts going out with him and he shuns his soon-to-be ex-fiancee, Frieda. (She's actually portrayed by his real-life sister, which is rather disturbing.) Cleopatra is welcomed by the other freaks, who are glad to have her as part of the family. They chant, "Gobble gobble, one of us!" She is horrified that they would even consider being at her level. 

The freaks discover she is trying to poison Hans, and go after her one rainy night. It must have been terrifying for her to see several strange beings crawling towards you in the dark, and this movie was made 80 years ago. It's the same way when contortionists crawl along the wall in modern Asian horror films.
I laughed so hard during the ending, when it is revealed what happened to Cleopatra. It is so over-the-top ridiculous. Also, her 'normal' boyfriend who she cheats with while she dates Hans gets his comeuppance too.  Film gets a 7/10.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In the Year of the Pig (1968)

I never like watching movies about the War of Northern Aggression because that's all we were taught in history class. However, we did not spend one single day covering the Vietnam War, so all this is new to me. Everything I learned about it is from what I have read myself, and I learned a lot from this documentary. This documentary was actually made during the war, not after, so it's like everything is happening in real time.

The first indochina war lasted from 1946 to 1954. So why did the tombstones say in French, "Died March 18. 1885"? And there was another one that said 1876. What is the significance of showing these tombstones if they were from before the war?

We learn from this documentary that we went to Vietnam to stop Communism from taking over. No, we don't really care about the people who live there, we just need to stop Communism.

We don't ever see the documentary makers, but we feel their influence. Remember this: People may not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. However, this documentary is so dry it doesn't make me feel anything but boredom, but I did learn a lot.

It's rather eerie listening to these congressmen tell us their thoughts when we know what is really going to happen. They keep saying that they don't want to send troops to North Vietnam, and don't want to end lives, yet they think that destroying the military bases there and stopping Communism will be fast and simple. They are so arrogant they have no idea this war will not be fast and simple.

One of them said the "life of one American soldier is worth the lives of 50 chinamen".  He calls the lives of our soldiers "our most precious commodity." Yet when they ask the general why we should go over there, he replies, "Because of communism, our most despicable enemy." He says that we are going to crush Communism quickly, like we should have done in Korea.  Oh, I see. They're doing this because we lost in Korea and are so butthurt about it they're willing to try risking young men's lives again. Let me tell you something generals: My grandfather took shrapnel to the face while fighting in Korea for you assholes.

A senator tells us that we have not bombed civilians  We have simply bombed targets that happen to be in areas surrounded by civilians. What an arrogant jerk. The soldiers give us a different point of view by telling us about the racism and the killings in the area.

This documentary is informative and well put together. It seems that the fact our government lies to us is hardly new. I learned a lot and will give this film a 7/10. However, 1968 is actually the year of the monkey, so I am totally baffled by the title.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

There is a movie on this list that is a masterpiece. It's called Jacob's Ladder. This is the horror film I have been waiting for. It's not a slasher film where a crazy guy chases teenagers.  The horror is entirely inside the mind, and you can't escape your own mind. 

You need to be alone, on the couch, wrapped in a blanket in the dark cause that is the best way to watch it. The original story is about this dude named Jacob who has a dream about a ladder (in some versions it's a staircase) that stretches upward into heaven, with angels on the rungs/steps welcoming him. So I knew going into the movie it had to be a dream, meaning there would be several fantastic or unrealistic elements.  It's like Alice in Wonderland where lots of weird things happen but we already know it turns out to be a dream.

The movie is heavy with symbolism.  Jacob tells his girlfriend Jezzie about his children, and she tells them they have "weird names". He tells her that they are biblical names, and her name (Jezzie, short for Jezebel) is biblical too. Jacob is still mourning the death of his young son Gabe, who died before Jacob went to war. 

Jacob starts having weird dreams and hallucinations. He finds out that other members of his platoon have similar issues, and together they go to a lawyer.  This doesn't work, because according to the government, they were never in Vietnam at all. It is really hard to go up against the government.

His greatest ally is his chiropractor, Dr. Louis. If you didn't know, St. Louis is the patron saint of soldiers, sick people, and against the death of children. When Jacob is taken to the scary awful hospital full of deformed people and eyeless nurses, it's Dr. Louis who rescues him. I didn't particularly think the really fast head-shaking people were that scary though.

Jacob keeps trying to find answers to explain away his hallucinations, especially since the other members of his platoon are dying in car explosions and stuff.  He is approached by Michael who explains everything to him. Michael is a hippie chemist/angel who was forced to make psychological drugs for the U.S. Army, specifically one that would increase manic tendencies   Jacob's platoon was unknowingly administered this drug, went crazy, and tried to kill each other.  Jacob doesn't remember much about what happened that night, but he was told by the palm reader that he had already died.

Dr. Louis tells him,  "The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you," he said. "They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth." So he's spent the entire time being bombarded with these negative and frightening images, that he forgets to look at the positives in his life.  He takes a taxi home, to his real home where his children are and is surprised to see Gabe sitting on the stairway. Gabe takes his hand and leads him up the stairway where his nightmare finally ends.  Movie gets a 10/10.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (1929)

I don't even know where to begin. There is nothing I can say that will explain this. I guess this is more of a surreal art piece than an actual film. Film will get a 6/10 for being a pretentious art piece. If I really wanted to see something of Dali's I'd rather drive over to Tampa to that museum of his than watch a movie. Honestly. Also they slice a lady's eyeball for no reason, there's ants coming out of people's hands, and that's gross.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Carrie (1976)

The ultimate tale of revenge against bullies, Carrie is as relevant today as it was 37 years ago.

The sweet, shy Carrie is emotionally tormented at home by her overly religious mother, who hurls Bible verses that are worse than insults at her.  She receives no better treatment at school and is bullied by the popular in-crowd. Things get even worse when she gets her first period at school and the bullies throw feminine products at her.  Their teacher gives them detention, but that doesn't stop bullies. Not then and not now.

Carrie goes home and is abused by her mother again by insulting her and locking her in a closet.  This is where she discovers her powers. So she ends up going to prom in a dress she made herself, and for a minute she's happy. But we know what is going to happen when she's named prom queen.  As she looks around the room at everyone laughing, she unleashes her frustration upon them in a telekinetic murderous rage. Pretty decent special effects for the 70's. Also, she blows up a car with her mind. Car explosions and/or chases will always hold a special place in my heart.

The main thing I remember from when I first watched this when I was six is Carrie and her mother's death. Carrie's mom hugs her and then stabs her in the back.  My mom told me, at age six, "Don't let someone hug you or else they'll stab you in the back. Just like that! Look!" Shit I am 26 years old and I still don't like people hugging me. My mom was always telling me messed-up stuff like that. Anyway, film gets 6/10.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Scorpio Rising (1964)

What!? A short that doesn't suck terribly and doesn't utterly confuse me?

Thanks Kobe for expressing how I feel. The most striking element of this short is that there is no dialogue or score. Throughout the short, there is 50's pop music playing, and in a strange way, the lyrics of the songs help carry us through the story.  The film provides a glimpse into the life of greasers, motorcycle loving-guys from the city.  Along with the gangs of bikers, we see glances of Nazis and Jesus' followers.  Are we all sheep following leaders like these three different groups are? Do we always have to categorize ourselves, whether it be by race, accent, or culture? I don't know. The film doesn't ask any questions at all. Nor does it provide any answers. It simply shows us a moment in time with a very specific group of people.  This film gets a 10/10 for not pissing me off.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Letter to Mr. Ebert.

“When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.” (Roger Ebert, 2010)

This is really hard, especially since you're the third person to pass away this week. But since I can't say goodbye in person, I wrote you this. You were my biggest influence as a writer from your dry sense of humor to your honest criticisms.  In later years, you became a man who refused to surrender to illness. No matter what happened, you still reviewed films and even took the time to write a cookbook.  I don't even take the time to read a cookbook.

You could be hardcore with your reviews at times:

"I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." (review of North)

But showed me that even though I may not personally enjoy a genre of films (romantic comedies) I should still review them objectively. I need to tell people why they would enjoy watching the film or not.

"In other words, is a film true to its genre and does it deliver what its audiences presumably expect?"

This is more than reviewing films.  If I can make one person smile, and one person think, than my day is made brighter.  When someone reads what I have written, no one can see my illness and no one can see how it has and how it will continue to disable my body.  As time goes on, I am physically able to do less, and my thought process might suffer as well, but I will still continue to write. No one can take that away from me. I know I can do it, because you did it. 

Goodbye Mr. Ebert

Your fan,
Lindsey D.

Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902)

Most people mistakenly believe that it was the Americans who first landed on the moon. This is wrong. It was actually the French all the way back in 1902, and this documentary proves it.  Most people think it was the Americans because our grandparents watched the moon landing on TV, but we know today that that garbage was filmed in New Mexico.  This film, A Trip to the Moon, is the real deal. I have already seen it several times in black and white, but I finally found a copy in color. Each frame was lovingly hand-painted, and I'm very excited to share some stills I saved with you.

First still is a picture of the launch. I have spent most of my life in Florida, so I have seen many launches and I can say this method is much more efficient than ours.
A line of hot chicks load up the "spaceship" into a cannon-like device which is then shot into space.

The next still is the actual landing. The astronauts, or spationautes as they are called in France, had the foresight to attach a camera to the front of their spaceship. We the viewers can see the moon get closer and closer and are even able to see its face!

The spaceship lands on the moon and takes out its right eye in a bloody mess. Wait, if the camera is attached to the spaceship, who's filming this??

The next still is the spationautes getting out of their spaceships and celebrating how great they are.  Notice how everybody's clothes have been painted a different color. The filmmakers had to do this with every single frame. The amount of work is astonishing.

Lastly, the spationautes encounter aliens and beat the crap out of them with umbrellas. This seems highly unnecessary since the aliens pose no threat and the moon is their territory. They just want to live in peace and scooch around on their butts.

This alien, scooching around on his butt,
has no idea he's about to be bopped on the head with an umbrella.
The spationautes run back to their spaceship and return to Earth, where they receive a hero's welcome.  This movie, however short, was amazing in its effects for the time period.  It is hard to believe people could make a film like this over 100 years ago.  And the fact that they included space aliens on the moon when our government is always trying to deny their existence is commendable.  The realism of the moon's geography is breathtaking (Lol- cause it's the moon and there's no atmosphere? Fine. I tried.) and I have been convinced that the whole area is a tropical mushroom garden with waterfalls. Part of me is starting to think that maybe this isn't a real documentary, but I'll still give it a 10/10.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

A totally uninteresting film about the ever increasing sexual tension of a man and woman. When the inevitable finally happens, I just don't care. The scenery is ridiculous from the sparkling clean, crime-free Manhattan to their huge apartments. Why does a single person need an apartment that big?  I tried to enjoy this movie, but I just couldn't. I guess romantic comedies just aren't my thing.  Technically I should give this a 2/10 cause it sucked, but as far as romantic comedies go, it was decently made and the cinematography was good. So I'm giving this movie 6/10.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

City Lights (1931)

This is probably my favorite Charlie Chaplin film. It features him as his usual goofy tramp self, but he falls for a beautiful blind woman.  He goes out of his way to find funds for an eye surgery that will restore her sight.  She has no idea he's a simple tramp and believes he is a gentleman.  The police mistakenly think he stole the money and he is sent to jail.  When he is let out, she has had her surgery and can see.  So she finally gets to see him for the first time. This movie is so sweet and gets an 8/10.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Update: April

It seems that my illness has taken a turn for the worse and I will not be able to effectively review films as much as usual.  I'm trying to focus on shorter films and ones I've seen before. Hopefully I will be able to focus on longer films soon and am trying to make progress by watching a little each day. I still have 794 films to go so I have lots to choose from! This means I have watched 207 films from the list and reviewed 54 films on this blog since I started this February.  It's good to be making some progress.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Gaav (The Cow) (1969)

Gaav (The Cow) is such a sad movie and will receive a 6/10 from me. A man owns the only cow in his whole village. He loves his cow. He feeds it, takes care of it, and even buys gifts for it. Then one day, while he is gone to town, the cow collapses and dies. The fellow townspeople try their best to shield him from the pain, but eventually he is going to learn the truth. And his mind ceases to function properly. 

Here I am with my laptop, ps3, and 2012 kia, and all this guy has is his one cow. That was his whole world and he lost it.