Sunday, June 30, 2013

C'est arrivé près de chez vous (Man Bites Dog) (1992)

Here is a mockumentary about a serial killer. Squeee! Oh, this is going to be hilarious.  I am actually watching this movie right now.  The serial killer's name is Ben (who is also a thief) and he is being followed around by a film crew of three.


He kills someone on the train in the first 44 seconds.  Then, I got a little math lesson on how to sink bodies.  Doesn't matter here; they'd be eaten by gators soon anyways.

I learned that his friend lost her house because a developer built condos for old people.  I'm sure this film has some deeper meaning about imminent domain and the government being awful but I don't want to research anything right now.  After listening to him speak for a while, I believe this man is straight up crazy.  He is ranting about the bricks being red because of "Indians, violence and (red) wining and dining". WAT.  I thought bricks were red because they had iron in them.

He convinces the film crew to go with him to a seafood restaurant, even though they originally didn't want to.  He asks them what kind of wine they wanted with the mussels, red or white.  What an idiot.  Everyone knows the mussels go with white wine.  Uncultured swine!

He car chases another guy who escapes into what looks like an abandoned nuclear tower. They chase the guy and he shoots and kills the sound man!  Remy, the director, picks up the sound equipment and the cameraman keeps filming.  The two become more involved in Ben's crimes, first helping him chase victims and carrying away bodies.

I thought it was funny when they encountered another film crew.  Also every party they're at is cringeworthy because Ben cannot hold his liquor at all.  He also shoots someone at his birthday party and the guests just quietly sit there, covered in blood.

Ben is a rather stupid and careless criminal.  He shoots them all with the same gun.  So all of his victims will be traced back to him.  Also, he throws all the bodies into the river, so when the water is low, all of the bodies are visible.  I thought the movie dragged a bit.  I haven't learned anything about Ben's character. I've met his family, but there is no interview of them and I barely see anything of his home life. It's nothing but crime after crime.  I really don't care what happens to anyone in this film. I'm giving this movie a 6/10.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mary and Max (2009)

Today's film is Mary and Max, one of the three animated films that have made me cry.  This animation is not what I expected.  Everything is almost black-and-white, and is done in claymation or stop-motion style.


Mary is a little girl in Australia who wants a penpal.  She randomly picks a name from an American phone book.
The man she chooses is Max, from New York.  Max is a rather quirky fellow.  Eventually he works up the courage to write her back. Thus begins an almost 30 year friendship.
As Mary grows up, we learn that she has been his only friend.  His quirks hurt him in social situations.  He can communicate with Mary by writing and sending small gifts.  Mary and Max never meet in real life.  Later, he is diagnosed with Asperger's.  He tells this in a letter to Mary, and she is inspired to learn more.
Mary goes to college and focuses her studies on disorders such as autism and Asperger's.  She writes a best-selling book about it and focuses on Max's case.  Max is thoroughly offended.
Mary tries to apologize, but it takes a long time for Max to feel better.  He didn't like being the center of attention and being studied.  Meanwhile, Mary gets married but the marriage falls apart.  Being all alone, without her husband or best penpal friend, Mary attempts to kill herself.  This scene made me lie down in my sock drawer and cry for three days.  But she doesn't kill herself   It takes her time to heal but eventually she decides to go visit Max in New York. When she arrives at his place, she has also brought along her baby (we find out she was pregnant during her dark time).  But Max isn't there.  However, Mary's pictures, her letters, and gifts are all over the place.  He never forgot here and she was truly the greatest light in his life.  I wonder how he would have coped with seeing her.  

Max's place proves that to the entire world, you may just be one person, but to one person, you may be the entire world.  Mary's friendship meant everything to him.  This film was so dark and sad, and yet at the end was uplifting.  I will give it a 7/10.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Graduate (1967)

Today's film is The Graduate.  It stars Dustin Hoffman as Ben, who recently graduated from college. What is Ben to do now?  He could get an internship, a job, or maybe get his PhD or something.  What does Ben do?  He lies in the sun on a float in the pool all day long.  That's okay for awhile but eventually he's going to have to suck it up and make something of himself.


 
Then, Ben goes to a house party and meets Mrs. Robinson, a sexy cougar.  I don't know if the term cougar existed back then, but women who are into younger men can't be something new.  It's just more common that the man is older and the woman is younger, but it's not like it's required. Anyway, Mrs. Robinson is sexy, knows what she wants, and is totally in charge.
 

The soundtrack is mostly songs from Simon and Garfunkel, which gives it a gentle, folksy '70s feel.  I know this film came out in 1967, but I always associate S&G with the '70s.  Probably because their album "Bridge Over Troubled Water" came out in 1970.
 
After being with Mrs. Robinson for awhile, Ben meets her daughter, Elaine.  I was not impressed with Elaine and thought she was a bland character.  Ben ditches Mrs. Robinson to chase after her daugher.  This is some true Jerry Springer stuff happening right here.  Elaine goes off to college and Ben totally stalks her there.
 
Ben's stalking makes me uncomfortable.  Even at Elaine's wedding, he interrupts by banging on the glass.  Does she scold him for interrupting her wedding. No, she leaves with him. On a bus.  Wat.  I hope she's happy with her stalker.  I mean, if she didn't leave her fiance at the alter so quickly, she probably would have cheated on him within the year anyway.  Just saying.
 
So Ben ends up with Mrs. Robinson's daughter because he wants a younger version of her.  And everyone's okay with this.  I thoroughly enjoyed Dustin Hoffman's and Anne Bancroft's performances.  I will give this movie a 6/10.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Elephant Man (1980)



Today's film is The Elephant Man. Prior to watching this, I read almost anything I could find about John (Joseph) Merrick. His life was interesting yet tragic. All he wanted was to be respected as a human being.

Merrick was found by a surgeon, who let him stay as a permanent resident of his hospital. The surgeon, Dr. Treves, was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. It was different to see him as a generous and kind doctor when 20 years later he would portray the evil Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

John Hurt did a great job of playing Merrick. He brought such a depth to a character that I have only read about. He was too shy and scared to speak such everyone thought he was simple. But once he gained the courage to speak, he gained more respect. After he was away from his abusive manager and into his own room, he entertained visitors and didn't wear his mask. He had difficulty speaking because of the way his mouth and face were growing. He also enjoyed reading.

The filmmakers actually used molds cast from the real-life Merrick to create the makeup for the character. It took so long to get the makeup on and off that Hurt had to work every other day because he would be exhausted.

There are several references to lying down like a normal person. Merrick mentions it often, and there is a painting of a child sleeping in a bed in his room. This is important because this is how Merrick died in real life. He wanted so badly to be normal that one night he laid down on the bed instead of sitting up. His head was so massive that his neck couldn't support it laying down and it killed him.

There are a few things added to the story to make it a bit more dramatic. There was never a night watchman who brought his friends to tease and torment him. Also, Merrick was never kidnapped and taken to Europe. But it does make the movie more interesting. Merrick actually spent a quiet and uneventful life in his room at the hospital.


I have been looking forward to seeing this film for a while now. It lived up to my expectations and I am glad I read so much about this man. It's not necessary to read anything prior to watching this, because his life is portrayed semi-accurately. It's just slightly more dramatic. I will give this film a 8/10.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Out of the Past (1947)

Today's film is Out of the Past (Build My Gallows High).  Before I started this list, I had never watched a film noir.  But now I have seen a few, and some of them are okay.  However, I did not enjoy watching this film.  If this would have been the very first film noir I had ever seen, then I would have never wanted to watch one again.

The main character is Jeff/Bailey/Markum or whatever his name is.  He used to be a private eye but now works at a gas station with his clever deaf friend.  For being at a gas station, they sure do smoke a lot.  Anyway, as expected his past catches up with him and he tells the first part of the story as a flashback.  I think flashbacks are required in film noir.

The bad guy, Whit, is played by Kirk Douglas, and I feel his role was wasted.  He could have done a lot more.  I guess it is believable that the lady, Kathie, wanted to get away from him, but I kept waiting for more to happen.

I didn't like Bailey (I'm just going to go ahead and call him Bailey) because he had no emotions.  He had a typical male lead 'coolness' surrounding him.  It's mostly like a James Dean coolness.  But there's a difference between coolness and not reacting to anything.  When he found the body in the office? No reaction!  When he saw Kathie with the bad guy, Whit, after believing she escaped? No reaction!  His whole demeanor reminds me of I joke I learned in high school:

Helium walks into a bar.  The bartender says, "We don't serve noble gases in here." Helium doesn't react.

Bailey is definitely helium in this movie.  But let's talk about the real bad guy this movie, Kathie.  She is so sketchy.  She is really good at manipulating Bailey.  But maybe she is manipulating everyone else in the movie too.  She had no problem killing Bailey's partner.  She wasn't angry or upset, she just coldly killed him because he would have given her away.  That's it.  Then she had someone else killed just to frame Bailey.  She also kills Whit and convinces Bailey to run off with her.  Bailey agrees because he is gullible and stupid. Also, Kathie is dressed like a nun for some reason.

Why is she dressed like a nun?

Of course, at the end they both die.  This was to be expected.  There were many times I cringed at this movie, especially at the dialogue.  I cannot recommend this movie to anyone. I will have to rate this a 4/10.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paranormal Activity (2007)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film.  Its hyper-realism gave a new direction to the 'found footage' or 'shaky cam' genre.  Most found footage is too shaky and makes me really dizzy.  However this movie was fairly enjoyable.


It starts off with Micah buying a fancy video camera to document the strange events going on at his house, a large two story, three bedroom house that he shares with his girlfriend. Why does a couple need a house that big?

Most of the scary stuff happens around the 2-3:00 am mark, the "witching hour" as it's called.  According to any ghost hunter show on TV ever, this is definitely the time where ghosts or other paranormal things should appear or make their presence known.  Also, Micah is constantly taunting their presence when he should just very well leave it alone.

It was enjoyable because it kept me guessing.  Such as when Katie, the girlfriend, walks outside to the patio at night, I thought, "oh, she's just sleepwalking."  But when Micah brings her back upstairs, the TV has mysteriously turned on.  There are other instances like this that at first showed me that all of this can be scientifically proven and there's nothing to worry about; but then something truly paranormal would happen and leave me wondering.  What is real?  Should Katie have seen a shrink about her childhood experiences?  Yes, even if something unreal was pursuing her, letting go of her past "demons" could have helped her.  Either that, or they should have called Ghostbusters.

If you're looking for an action film, this is not for you.  It was a very original kind of movie, because even though it was scripted, it was presented as reality.  It was one couple who turned on a camera in their home, and we could see into their lives.  It just so happened that there was a dark presence in their home. I will give this movie a 7/10.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oldeuboi (2003)


So, I was at the neurologist, and the nurse calls me in for a test.  She places all these electric diodes and wires all over my feet and legs.  Next to her was a machine to measure this electricity or something.  Then, she would activate each diode to send the electric shock to my nerves to see the reaction.  Now, most of them I couldn't feel.  But then some of them I could feel! And they shocked the crap out of me!

Another thing that shocked the crap out of me was Oldeuboi! I was glued to my seat the entire time, wondering what was going to happen to him.  The main character is Oh Dae-Su.  One day, out of the blue, he is kidnapped and kept in a room for 15 years.  Just as randomly, he is set free with money and clothes; told he has to find his captor and discover the reason his captor kept him so long, but he only has five days to do so.  Can he figure out the mystery?  Did he deserve to be captured for so long?

This is a mystery that was exciting from start to finish.  But I knew there was something up with that girl he liked.  I knew something had to be very wrong.  But the captor tricks them into being together on purpose to punish Oh Dae-Su because he feels he needs revenge.  This is a revenge tale that stretches all the way back to when the captor and Oh Dae-Su were in high school together.

There are some fight scenes and they are glorious.  These fight scenes, especially that one with the hammer, are expertly choreographed.

Then the captor finally gets his revenge, and Oh Dae-Su begs for forgiveness.  Also, Oh Dae-Su cuts off his own tongue with a pair of scissors.  The captor responds by shooting himself in the head.  I don't understand.  He got what he wanted.  Killing himself seems like a waste at this point.

Oh Dae-Su opts to be hypnotized so he'll forget his entire ordeal, and live his life peacefully (although without his tongue).  He seems happy to have forgotten, but has he truly forgotten?  We may never know.  This is one of the most exciting and disturbing thrillers I have seen, and I will give it an 8/10.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sabotage (A Woman Alone) (1936)


It opens with what looks like a generator filled with sand.  Then, we see a creepy German guy walking away all creepy.  Not only is he is cartoonish villain, but he proves the Hitchcock character guide.
 
Hitchcock character guide
 
Is the character American? ---> Yes! ----> They're good!
No
Is the character British? ---> Yes! ---> They're really good!
No
Is the character European, with a Eastern European or German accent ---> Yes! ---> They're the villain!
 
The sketchy German guy, Mr. Verloc, causes a blackout by using sand, it appears, and returns to the movie theater where he lives.  He lives with his American wife, Mrs. Verloc, and her little brother. Sylvia Sidney, who plays Mrs. Verloc, is an atrocious actor.  The family is being watched by Ted, who at first appears to be an unassuming grocery store worker.  We very soon learn he is an undercover detective for Scotland Yard.  Also, Mrs. Verloc is a dark brunette while her brother is a redhead.  I do not understand genetics.

Verloc is being paid by another creepy foreigner to plant a bomb in a cloakroom near Piccadilly Circus. He was happy to cause a blackout, because he thought he was helping. However, the man is angry and wants to scare the citizens.  So he forces Verloc to plant the bomb.  Verloc doesn't want to murder anyone and doesn't want to do it.  It seems he has no choice in the matter.  I both feel pity and disgust for this character. He does not want to kill, but has no problem sending the little brother to plant the bomb.  This way, he maintains his guilt-free conscience.
 
One bad part was the tension leading up to the explosion.  We know the package is supposed to explode.  The camera constantly focuses on the package.  No matter where the little brother goes, we are reminded he is carrying the package.  All we can do is wait for it to go off and hope he's not holding it.  The bus he is riding is stuck in lunch hour traffic.  So little brother doesn't make it to his destination and the package explodes on the bus.  Immediately, it jumps to the adults laughing.

If I'm forced to watch the build-up of the explosion for like half the film, at least let me see the explosion.  Where is the thrill? I thought this said it was a thriller.  The jump is actually a terrible film transition and a poor editing choice.

Then, the wife gets all upset when she learns her brother is dead.  She stabs her husband with a rounded kitchen knife.  Then, she meets Ted the detective on the street, and confesses.  She appears distraught and no longer cares for her own life.  Ted, of course, has the whole, let's run away to Europe theory.  I also found out that they didn't need passports there back then.  Ted and Mrs. Verloc's "romance" is so laughably contrived.  Their acting is just so stupid.  I cannot take either one of them seriously.

Then, Mr. Verloc is killed in another explosion, which takes away all evidence of his murder.  So, Mrs. Verloc escapes any jail time and lives happily ever after.

As hokey as it was, it was still fun it watch.  However, I will give it a 4/10 as I expect more from the director.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dumbo (1941)

Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Lay your head close to my heart
never to part
Baby of mine
 
How can a movie be so sweet and so off-putting at the same time?
 
Poor Dumbo is bullied by everyone he meets just because he looks different.  All because his ears are larger than normal.  What's worse is that it's the adults who are doing the bullying!  As adults, we should be teaching our children to respect each other.  These adult elephants are horrible and crass.  Dumbo's mother loves him dearly, and one day when the bullying goes too far, she goes on a rampage to defend her son.  Her reward is getting locked up and labelled as crazy.
 
Since the elephants won't take him, he is stuck working with the clowns.  They paint his face with horrific clown makeup and make him jump from a tall building onto a trampoline.  Dumbo meets Timothy Mouse, who decides to help him and becomes his only friend. 
 
Here comes the part I don't like.  Timothy and Dumbo accidentally partake in some alcohol and get blackout drunk.  They start hallucinating.  This is where the song "Pink Elephants on Parade" happens.  The sheer weirdness of this song and the visuals made my daughter very uncomfortable.  She did not like this part at all.  As for me, I have no idea who thought it would be a good idea to make a family cartoon character blackout drunk and hallucinate.
 
Dumbo gets so drunk he winds up in a tree with Timothy.  This confuses him because elephants can't climb trees.  He must have flown!  Dumbo is helped by the friendly black people (crows, but we all know what they're supposed to be. Classic family racism.) who give him a "magic feather".  Dumbo stuns everyone at the circus by flying and soon becomes famous.  Also he didn't need a feather; he just needed confidence.  Now that Dumbo is a sensation, he and his mother have their own train car. 
 
Of course, now that Dumbo is a sensation, everyone loves him.  It's interesting how if someone is being made fun of the teasing stops once that person becomes famous or rich. It's like the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, who was shunned for his deformity.  However, once his nose proved useful, they all praised him.  Do you think he forgot how he was treated his entire life?  Be careful of who your true friends are.
 
The overall message is sweet.  Don't give up on your dreams or yourself, no matter how much people hurt you.  Don't give in to bullying.  You know who's awesome?  You're awesome.
 
I will give this movie a 7/10.

New Saturday Cartoon (Animated Feature Film) Feature!

Since we don't own a TV, my daughter has the ability to watch cartoons whenever she pleases.  All she has to do is turn on Netflix kids, pick a show, and watch.  Kids today have it so easy.  When I was little, I only got to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings.  I was hoping to make an animated feature film blog post once a week, but couldn't figure out which day to post it.  Now I know to post them on the only day I got to watch cartoons.  So, from now on until the end of the year, I will post a review of an animated work on Saturday.  The first movie I will review will be Dumbo, which will be posted later today.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Visit to a Small Planet (1960)


So, late at night, I decided to watch a fun science fiction B-movie from the '60s.  I was wrong.  This is not a B-movie, something that's inferior in quality yet fun to watch.  NO.  This film came from the bottom of the barrel.  A barrel so deep I need a ladder to climb out.
 
What makes this movie so awful?  Two words: Jerry Lewis.  He plays a teenage alien on a faraway planet that takes a joyride to Earth.  The aliens just look like humans.  Even the original Star Trek had better humanoid aliens.  There is nothing to let us now that they're aliens.  It's a science fiction film, you need to sell it or I won't buy it.  Plus, for a comedy, no one is funny. At all.  Jerry Lewis is so irritating, like a mosquito buzzing near your ear and you want to slap yourself in order to get rid of it.  I cannot stand his voice.  I cannot stand his mannerisms.  I cannot stand his face.
 
The dialogue was obviously written by high schoolers.  All of the jokes are either sex jokes or physical comedy. Also the culture of his alien world is the stupidest concept ever.  There's lots of eyeroll inducing moments in this movie.  I know that Jerry Lewis does not like female comedians, but trust me if I ever wanted comedy advice, he's the last person on Earth I would consider asking. 
 
Even for a late night B-movie, this is just pathetic.  This awful, beyond awful.  This is a shit-fest and a half.  I wish that I had one of those neuralyzers from Men in Black so I could flash myself and forget this movie ever existed. I will give this film a 1/10.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) (1999)


Ugh, what utter melodramatic crapola this was.  A single mother, Manuela, returns to Barcelona after her son dies in an accident.  Her friends are all transvestites.  We soon find out her ex-husband was also a transvestite and that's the reason she left.  She ran away to Madrid when she became pregnant and told no one goodbye.

So after her son, Esteban, dies, she goes back to Barcelona and meets up with Agrado, her friend who acts like they had not spent one day apart.  They meet a nun, who turns out to be pregnant. The father is none other than Manuela's transvestite ex-husband! Now, his name is Lola, but his given name is Esteban (like his son).  Lola has HIV so Manuela, who used to work in a hospital, insists the nun get tested.  Of course, she is positive so that doesn't bode well for herself or the baby. The nun moves in with her because she can't stand her mother, and this presents an awkward situation.

Now for the whole side story of A Streetcar Named Desire.  This means a lot to Manuela, but you don't have to have read or watched the play to understand this movie.  She helps out two actresses a lot, and they become friends.

The nun has her baby and then dies, because this movie isn't about her, it's about Manuela.  Manuela takes and raises the baby boy as her own, as a replacement for her own dead son.  Take a wild guess what the baby's name is.  That's right, it's Esteban!  Oh, and another thing, he cures himself of his HIV in less than three years.  That seems like a fairytale ending in 1999.  However, there was a very recent case of a doctor curing a young child born with AIDS.  So, it is possible, but maybe not fourteen years ago.  Manuela, having a new healthy son and lots of friends now lives in Madrid again, but visits her friends in Barcelona. So everyone lives happy ever after.  Except her older son who is dead.

I know the theme of the movie is healing after someone dies.  Like her son, she touches many lives after his death.  His organs go to save many people, while she also helps people in her own way.  This movie is so melodramatic I want to barf. I will give it a generous 5/10.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Roman Holiday (1953)



Today's film is the sweet and somewhat dull romantic comedy, Roman Holiday. It stars Audrey Hepburn in her first role.  My mom always told me that Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn were mother and daugther.  Turns out they are not.

Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Ann, who is tired of being in the spotlight and wants a day off.  She throws a fit one night, is given medicine by the royal doctor, and falls asleep.  She awakes in the middle of the night and takes off into the city.  This is the first time she has ever been anywhere without her chaperones.  Unfortunately the medicine the doctor gave her was a sedative and she falls asleep.  Joe, an American reporter living in Rome, finds her and tries to pawn her off on a taxi driver so she can get home.  The taxi driver won't take her and now Joe is stuck.  He doesn't want to leave her alone because it's not safe to fall asleep outside in a city, so he takes her home.  She sleepwalks and sleeptalks her way into his apartment and comfortably cuddles up in his bed. He drags his couch around to the bed, takes the sheets, and flips her off the bed onto the couch. 

Harry wakes up at noon and wanders in late to work. When he sees the newspaper, he recognizes a picture of the princess as the girl from last night.  He convinces his boss that he will interview the princess and goes back home.

Harry gives her 1000 lire to get by, and tells her it's worth $1.50 in American dollars.  She gets food, a new outfit, a haircut, and new shoes with this.  Either she is a smart shopper or $1.50 goes a really long way in Italy. 

Harry and his photographer friend, Irving, meet her at a cafe.  She has her first cigarette (and doesn't cough like a first-timer should) and Irving snaps her photo with his neat little lighter camera. Then Harry and Ann take a ride around town on a scooter.  Then Ann insists on driving herself and nearly wrecks the whole town.

Later they go to a party, where her country's secret service are waiting in ambush to get her.  She and the two guys fight them off, and she even whacks one with a chair.  I thought the fight/party scene was so funny.
I liked her costumes.  They looked very stylish for the '50s.  Also they show off the fact that Audrey Hepburn has the tiniest waist I have ever seen.  If I could go back in time, I would bring $2.00 to 1950's Italy and buy a whole wardrobe of cute outfits (and cute sandals)!  

Also, it did have a more realistic ending rather than fairytale ending.  I enjoyed watching this even though it was romantic. I will give it a 6.5/10.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kumonosu-jô (Throne of Blood) (1957)

Today's film is a wonderful adaption of Macbeth.  The original title is Kumonosu-jô which translates to The Castle of the Spider's Web.  But here we will name it Throne of Blood. This movie was directed by Akira Kurosawa and it is absolutely amazing.

It really helps that as a theatre major, I know Macbeth backwards and forwards. For easy reference:

  • Washizu = Macbeth
  • Lady Asaji = Lady Macbeth
  • Miki = Banquo
So, after winning a victory for their castle, the two soldiers, Washizu and Miki, get lost in the tangled forest that surrounds the castle. The forest is appropriately called the Spider Web forest. While they are searching for a way out, they come across a mysterious glowing white figure, singing to herself.  She claims to see the future and tells them their fortunes.  Washizu will become a Lord of the garrison, and Miki will be a commander of the first fortress.  Eventually, Washizu will become the Great Lord (King) and later Miki's son will become the Great Lord.  Such ambitions are impossible for loyal soldiers like these two.  How could they ever hope to have such a high position?  After leaving the spirit, the two laugh about it and dismiss the idea.

Later that night, the king rewards the soldiers for their valor by giving them new titles - the exact titles the spirit prophesized!  The soldiers are stunned.  Washizu tells his wife, Asaji about what the spirit told him. Asaji is portrayed by Isuzu Yamada and she shines in her role.  Asaji is very ambitious and convinces her husband to kill the Great Lord and frame someone else.  He does, and afterward his friend Miki convinces the council to let him rule as Great Lord.  Miki also trusts in the prophecy, and has been friends with Washizu since childhood.

Asaji convinces Washizu to kill the Great Lord and fulfill his destiny.

Washizu tells Miki he wants to name his (Miki's) son heir to the throne, since he himself has no children.  After telling his wife in private, she informs him that she is pregnant.  But it is too late; he has already named someone else heir when his own child should have that honor.  What should he do?  We know by reading the story that he secretly has Miki and his son killed.  However, Miki's son escapes.

Washizu has a great banquet set up to honor his new heir.  However, Miki and his son never show up.  The other guests have no idea why.  They think he is being rude.  Washizu and his wife play it off like they don't know what's going on either.  Then, the glowing ghost of Miki appears at banquet!  This frightens Washizu and he draws his sword and flails it about the thin air.  Asaji is embarrassed and sends the other guests away.

Washizu's reign is short lived, however.  Miki's son and the prince have joined forces with a rival castle and are preparing to attack.  Meanwhile, Asaji has a baby but it was stillborn.  Washizu is worried that he may be defeated and flees into the forest to seek out the spirit.  The spirits tell him that no one can defeat him until the very foreest rises up to fight him. But this is impossible!  Washizu is pleased with everything the spirits tell him and returns to his castle to inspire his army.

Washizu finds his wife in a state of agitation, furiously scrubbing her hands.  She is trying to wash off the blood, but she can't.  Her ambition and guilt have driven her into a mad state, where she sees the bloodstains but cannot rid herself of them.  Isuzu Yamada's transition from a cold, plotting woman, to one who is upset and panicking over nothing, is very nice.  She is a good actor.

Out, out, damned spot!

Lastly, Washizu's army turns against him in fear! Why?  Because the forest is rising up and heading towards the castle to fight!  Washizu looks out into the forest and cannot believe it himself.  But it is true.  His army has had enough of him and start firing arrows his way.  This was actually done with real arrows being shot with precision.  Of course the ones that "hit" him are fake.  Real arrows are used to get a reaction of true fear from Toshirô Mifune, who played Washizu. Later, it revealed that Miki's son's army is concealing itself with branches while they advance on the castle. So it only appears as if the forest is attacking. So, the spirit's prophecy came true, but only because Washizu and Asaji made it come true.

This is one of the best adaptations of a Shakespeare play I have ever watched. I'm giving it a 9/10.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

How this animation is not on the 1001 list blows my mind.  It was nominated for best picture in 1991, but lost out to The Silence of the Lambs.  If it would have won, it would have been the first animation to do so.  Also, it is the first animation to implement computer animation.


 
Plot:
The movie is vastly different from the book, but that does not detract from our enjoying it. It still keeps the basic plot.  Belle is a young woman living in a tiny French town who is branded a "misfit" because she enjoys reading, and her father is deemed crazy because he is a creative inventor.  Belle is actually color-coded blue so she'll stand out in the crowd.  Her father, Maurice, who has created the world's first steam engine but only uses it to chop wood, takes his invention to a fair and gets lost in the woods.  He seeks shelter in a creepy castle where he discovers the inanimate objects there, such as a candlestick, are eager to serve and please him.  Except the clock, Cogsworth, who has issues. Anyway, the scary Beast comes storming in a rage towards the main room, grabs her dad, and drags him upstairs to the dungeon. Yes the dungeon is upstairs. No, I don't understand either.
 
Belle is surprised her horse, Philippe  has returned so quickly and without her father. So, she rides him into the forest and finds her father trapped in the castle.  She begs the scary Beast to let him go and to let her take his place. He agrees and sticks Maurice in a creepy walking carriage that scared me when I was little.  Maurice tries to get the villagers to save her, but they won't because he's crazy. Gaston, Belle's handsome but asshole suitor, plots to put Maurice in an asylum to blackmail her into marrying him.
 
So, about Belle being trapped in the castle. She isn't stuck in the dungeon; she's given her own bedroom, beautiful dresses that fit perfectly, and free range of the castle with the exception of the West Wing.  Of course, Belle, being an only child spoiled brat, goes into the West Wing the first chance she gets.  This enrages Beast, who flips a table and Belle runs away in a panic.  As Belle flees, the wolves chase her.  The Beast comes to fight the wolves as very dramatic music plays.  Belle takes the injured Beast back to the castle to care for him instead of leaving him for dead and returning to her father.
 
Here is the part that sounds like Stockholm Syndrome to a lot of people.  However, its hard to say because the Beast treats her better and with more respect than anyone in her village ever did.  The part where Belle and the Beast become friends is filled with the best songs: "Something There" and the title song, "Beauty and the Beast".  The stunning scenes of the dance in the ballroom was animated seamlessly with both traditional and computer animation.  The ballroom dance is one of the best parts of the whole movie.


 
The Beast allows Belle to return home to care for her ill father, giving her his magic mirror as a gift. She uses it to prove that the Beast is real to Gaston and the villagers, saving her father from the loony bin.  Gaston seizes this moment to incite a mob to attack Beast's castle.  This leads to a hilarious fight between the objects and villagers.  The scene where the man gets trapped in the wardrobe and comes out dressed silly made me laugh so much when I first saw this.  Gaston and Beast have an epic showdown which ends up with Gaston falling to his death and the Beast bleeding out.  Belle comes back to the castle too late, and tells the Beast that she loves him. 

The Beast magically turns back into a human, and Belle recognizes him by his eyes.  The smoke around him while he is transforming is actual smoke with animation around it. They never say the Beast's real name in the film, but in the book and early computer game they call him Adam.  All of the objects turn back into humans too.  And they all lived happily ever after. I'll give this film a 9/10.

Note: The Beast was cursed to live as a beast until his 21st year.  Meanwhile, the objects sing "It's been 10 years since's anybody's here".  Many people mistakenly believe this means the Beast was 11 when cursed.  This is simply not true.  The Beast is the same age when cursed, and when the curse is lifted. The 21 years means being under the spell for 21 years.  This is evidenced by Chip, who is 6 years old.  If the Beast was 11, why isn't Chip 16 by now?  Exactly.  The objects and the Beast stay the same age the entire time they are cursed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Wedding Banquet (1993)


This movie is, above all, about lies.  The lies we tell our parents. The lies we tell our children. 
Wai-tung and Simon are living together in New York. Wai-tung is terrified of coming out to his traditional parents, so he literally fakes an entire wedding and wedding banquet just to fool them.  His "bride" is a female tenant (Wei-Wei) desperate for a green card, so there's something in it for her too.  I learned a lot about Chinese/Taiwanese customs, which were very interesting.

The elaborate wedding banquet was stunning. There were so many people! And the wedding night was interesting because everyone piled in the honeymoon suite and partied hard. That was quite funny.
But here comes the part that I hate. And I fully expected this to happen as this is a very predictable film. 

Ok, here it is. Guess what. Even though Wai-tung and Wei-Wei don't mean to, Wei-Wei gets pregnant. From the first try.  We find this out quickly because she is very nauseous at breakfast time.  Oh, yeah, sure because morning sickness happens the same week you get knocked up.  This shouldn't happen until at least the 4th or 5th week. I mean, she doesn't even know if her period is late.  What does this movie teach us? If you have sex and throw up the next day, you're pregnant! Getting pregnant/having a baby without meaning to is so tired and cliche in romantic comedies.  Cheesiness and constant cliches are the main reasons I can't stand watching romantic comedies.  As someone who had a very difficult time having a safe pregnancy and being stuck on bedrest from day one, this is how I felt watching all this:




 Also, Florida represent! So, Wai-tung and his mom are keeping a secret from his dad, and his dad and boyfriend are keeping a secret too. All of them need therapy. I give this movie a 6/10.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sherlock Jr (1924)

Here is a delightful short film featuring Buster Keaton.  The special effects in the dream sequence were pretty good considering this was over 90 years ago.  Such as when his spirit-like "dream self" emerges from his body while he sleeps on the job.  Also, he jumps through a lady and vanishes.
 
I like that he does his own stunts.  He runs across the top of the train and jumps down the water tower.  I heard from someone that he got injured doing this stunt.  I am too tired to verify this.  Also, he rides on the handlebars of a motorcycle all across the countryside.  I didn't know anyone could do that.  I thought you had to hold on to the handlebars in order to keep the engine running.  I've ridden on motorcycles but never driven one myself.  Oh, and he gets stuck on the roof and jumps on the railroad gate and sails down. Look:
 
 
 
 
That was neat.  I'm glad this was only 45 minutes because there was not enough story to keep it going any longer.  I'm going to give this a 6/10 because for a physical comedy, there wasn't a lot of comedy.  If I wanted to watch an action-filled comedy, I would choose a Stephen Chow/Jackie Chan film over this any day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Toy Story (1995)


This movie came out when I was 10 years old, and it is by far one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen. If anyone ever wants to watch it I'm like





What makes it so scary?

The dolls, man, the dolls. Dolls are inherently scary as fuck. They look like people, with human-like features, but have cold marble eyes.  There is no soul behind their eyes. There is nothing. They want to fool us by looking at us with their soulless eyes, beckoning us to pick them up. But I know better!


So these genius writers at Pixar come up with this twisted idea that once we leave the room, these dolls come to life! What kind of sick mind thinks this up? So once a child leaves their room, the toys come to life.  Do they always have awareness, or how are they able to stay so still when a child plays with them? My daughter is 2 1/2 and is fairly rough on her toys. So they are fully aware of when she's in the room, and when she's not. When she's in the room, the toys all lay there, with their cold features waiting for her human touch, yearning for the warm touch they themselves will never have. They glare at her with lifeless eyes, always watching, always judging, even as she sleeps.


Plot:

So the main characters are Woody, a cowboy doll, and Buzz, a spaceman, who have some kind of male pride rivalry going on, but I really don't care. I kept hoping they would be destroyed so I'd be rid of them. But they don't get destroyed. The worst part of the film is when they wind up in a house of toy mutant horrors. This is by far the most nightmare inducing part.








Woody and Buzz take control of the weaker minded mutant toys and incite them to revolt against their human child master, who has done nothing wrong except be creative. I often have to take apart old machines to find parts for new ones. Machines and toys do not have feelings. Now I know Pixar's just trying to scare me. The worst part when I first watched it is when the boy, Sid, picks up Woody and its head starts spinning around like in The Exorcist! Oh my I just cannot handle this.





This movie traumatized me when I first saw it as a child and had nightmares for years to come. Fuck everything about this movie. I'm giving it a 3/10.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

Here's a fun musical, and the first Bollywood film I've ever seen!


Plot: Girl is betrothed to a guy, but falls in love with someone else.  Father is enraged when he finds out, so he moves the entire family from their home in London to India.  Girl's lover follows her to India to win over her father's approval.

Songs: Yes, I understand the film is 3 hours long, but that's mainly because of all the songs in it.  The songs are upbeat and poppy, and are very catchy.  They're one of the best things about the movie.

 I had to make sure I kept the subtitles on and actually read them during the music numbers, because the lyrics of the songs actually push the plot along and tell us a lot about what's going on.  Otherwise I would be like this:

Romance: Yes, take away the songs and this is a cheesy romanctic comedy.  This movie, however, is a cheesy romantic comedy musical.  It's different.  A lot of stuff about honor is touched upon in the film. Such as our girl, Simran, and guy, Raj, don't even kiss during their time together (I don't think they allowed this in Bollywood films a while ago, and this was 18 years ago).  Also even though Simran begs him, Raj refuses to elope.  He wants to have her father's approval so he can marry her properly.  We wish the best for Simran and hope she doesn't have to marry her betrothed (who obviously has to be the worst jerk in the world, which makes Raj look even better).

Raj tells his father that he loves Simran and so he books a train for the three of them to escape.  Raj is still bent on winning over her father, and succeeds in getting her mother's approval.  Even she tells them they need to elope.  Finally, her father discovers that Raj and Simran still love each other and all hell breaks loose.  It's obvious he really doesn't like Raj.  Raj and his father are waiting for the train, and Simran's betrothed arrives with his gang of friends to beat the crap out of them. What ensues is a terribly hilarious dance-fight. Awesome.

Simran's mother takes her to the train station so she can leave with her true love, Raj.  However, her father also arrives and grabs her arm tightly and will not let go no matter how much she begs and cries.  As the train pulls away, we worry that she will not be able to get on.  Then, at the last minute, her dad lets go!  He tells her to run to her love. What caused this sudden change of heart?  Absolutely nothing!  It's a romantic comedy, there doesn't need to be a reason!  So the lovers end up together and are happy.  The end. I'll give this film a 7/10.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)



Yes, My husband and I are from Alabama, and no, we have not read the book.  The first thing that struck me was the narrator speaking about how hot it was there. She also said that there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.  There's not much to do there. This is all true. That's why we had to pack up and find work elsewhere.

 However, she said they were also told they had nothing to fear but fear itself.  Really?  They were actually told these words? Highly doubt it since she said in the beginning of the movie that it was 1932 and FDR never said this speech until March 1933.  I HATE when people don't pay attention to details.

Times have changed in Alabama, especially in the cities and college towns.  After we left college, we moved into a small town of 5000 people, and it was very similar to the town in this movie. Well, not artificial, and clean.  There seems to be a lack of broken lawnmowers and junk in this movie. The attitude in Maycomb is very believable. In fact, if it were colorized and set today, it could easily take place in our real-life small town and it would have been the exact same. No one would have noticed that it was an old movie.

And what's with them calling their father "Atticus"? It is very disrespectful to call someone by their first name unless you know them very well. A child would never call any adult by their first name. If it's a relative, it's always Aunt so-and-so, never just the name. And when an adult insists on being called by their first name, we had to add Mr. or Miss onto it (doesn't matter if they're married or not). And this is present day. I can only imagine children in the 30's were more polite. But obviously not.

Let's talk about Atticus, or as he should be known as, "pompous father who thinks he is better than everyone else".  He constantly wears his three piece suit everywhere and all day.  It's always very clean, in contrast to the ignorant farmers who are always dirty.  Oh, because we owned a farm, that makes us dirty. It's called taking showers, asshole filmmakers. Also clearly no one in the costume department has ever been to Alabama, because if it's August, ain't nobody wearing a heavy warm suit all day long.  I understand wearing them in the courtroom, but not all day even at home.  This, along with his glasses, seems just to be a gimmick to further separate him from the lower-class individuals.  He is the only person in town that wears glasses, because if you wear glasses it means you're smart.  This is why no one else wears them, because he is clearly the smartest one of all.

Also, I'm not too sure about his accent. He definitely doesn't have an Alabama accent. He doesn't seem to have any kind of accent at all.  Everyone else has some kind of Southern accent except him.  Is he afraid that if he sounds Southern he won't sound as educated? That's what Stephen Colbert does and I feel sorry he feels like he needs to do this. My husband and I went to college in Alabama, got great jobs in our majors, and we will not tone down our accents one bit.

In the courtroom Atticus asks the witness if he can read or write.  This is a legit question to ask in a small town in Alabama seeing how none of my in-laws can.  Atticus proves that the victim's injuries were done by a left-handed person.  Then, he launches into a fucking ten minute long speech with the word "negro" stuffed in 50 times hoping to sway the jury.  It wasn't even a good speech.  Then the jury comes back with a guilty verdict, and I'm like, ha ha ha, your lame speech didn't change anything.  What a loser.

When Atticus comes back to the house, he says that Tom escaped during transport to another town. The deputy said he "shot at him to wound him and missed his aim and killed him". Of course Atticus believes him. I cannot believe how incredibly naive this guy is. Or that he thinks an appeal will help. It can take years to file an appeal.  His stupid speech didn't work the first time; what makes him think it will work again?  Then when his children are attacked by Bob and saved by Boo Radley, the first thing he talks about are how he can defend against Bob's murder in court. He at first thinks that his son did it. Yeah, like a tiny twelve year old (that is the smallest twelve year old I've ever seen) with a broken arm can kill a man.  The sheriff points out that Boo did it to save them and he won't let him be arrested because putting someone like that through the court process "would be a sin". He just wanted to spare Boo from Atticus's terrible defending.  So, by not arresting him and allowing Atticus to defend him, the sheriff saved Boo's life. So we know who the real heroes are in this movie. I'm giving this movie a 5/10.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)


This film is so comforting.  It feels warm and cozy, like a cup of hot cocoa.  No matter how bad I am feeling, it will always make me smile.*  

Even though it's a comedy, it's not a constant laugh fest focusing on fart jokes and other bathroom humor. In Shakespeare's day, a comedy was a generally happy play that ends with a wedding while a tragedy was a sad play where everyone dies. Since not everyone dies at the end, by default, this is a comedy.  I like this film more than most comedies I have seen since 2000.

Something I noticed is that even though its a big family, there is a great sense of loneliness.  Margot takes a break from her marriage to live at home.  Chas lost his wife and moves himself and his children home too.  Ritchie never had anyone and moves home to see Margot.  Even Royal could never bring himself to divorce his wife and comes home when the threat of losing her to someone else becomes real. But, in the end, they all have each other as a family.

Is Royal a likeable character?  Not technically, but yes, I am compelled to like him.  Even though he never legally divorced his wife, he still left her to raise their three children by herself.  He finally returns, not for his adult children or grandchildren, but purely for selfish reasons. One, he is broke, and two, he wants to keep his wife from marrying her accountant.  Throughout the film, everything is does is self-serving. Also faking a serious illness is a really terrible thing to do.  I think they forgave him too easily for that.

The best part of the movie is the acting. I love everyone's performance in this movie. Although I did find it odd that the only two actual brothers (Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson) in the movie were not playing relatives!  I wish that they along with Ben Stiller would do more Wes Anderson comedies because it seems like a great vehicle for them and a lot better than certain movies they've done lately. Also, I liked the soundtrack. The music fit perfectly with what was going on in the movie. I will give this movie a 9/10.

 *I feel the same way about another Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic. I'll have to write about it sometime.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)



Campy Fun!  Today's film is The Hills Have Eyes.  It starts with an innocent family traveling through the desert on their way to sunny California.  They wind up in uncharted territory in an Air Force testing area/nuclear testing area/Area 51/something like that.  Anyway, it all goes downhill from there.

The bad acting award goes to the mother.  Goodness she was awful.  Also I didn't like Lynne, the mother of the baby Kate.  She was constantly pawning off her baby on the other relatives, and never fed or played with her once.  Then she left her baby in the camper so she could have sex in a station wagon.  Real class act mother right there.  I'm sure we won't miss them when the hillbillies attack them.

There are some very nice explosions in this movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching.  Then once the hillbillies kidnap the baby, it becomes all out war between them and the family.  Luckily the family finds a new ally in Ruby, the youngest and only other female hillbilly besides the mother.  She even picks up a rattlesnake and throws it at a guy!

However, don't be expecting a happy ending.  Or a sad ending.  Better yet, don't expect any ending at all.  The film just stops and the credits roll.  It's like they got tired of filming in the hot desert sun and just gave up.  How rude.  I wouldn't want to watch or read anything if it turned out to not have an ending.  I would be so disappo











Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)

I did not like this film. At. All.


The worst part was the "thief", Albert, played by Michael Gambon.  He never stopped talking in every scene he was in.  He was rude and awful to everyone around him, but the worst part is that he never stopped yammering ever.  He was so obnoxious.  I actually had to turn off my netflix and go run errands, not because I had to right away, but because I had to get away from his atrocious yapping.  No, I don't care that he played Dumbledore.  I hope I never see him in a movie again.  I can't get his awful voice and grating accent out of my head. 
I noticed that as Georgie, the wife (of the thief), moved around the restaurant, her clothes changed.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I thought the colored lights were casting shadows on her dress and it appeared to change colors. Then, I realized that her entire outfit changed to match the color of the area! So did everyone else's outfits! In the bathroom, her outfit is white, the dining room is red, and the kitchen is green! But why does this happen? Is this some sort of theatrical gimmick?
Most of this film is softcore porn, which is fine by me. Sometimes I would look at the screen and be like:



 Another terrible thing about this film was their song choice.  It was the same high pitched song over and over and over.  Not a beautiful operatic song, a high pitched wailing song, like when the stray cats fuck outside my window. The cats make all kinds of high pitched noises and it sounds very similar to this song.  My ears were bleeding by the time this movie was over.
But the ending! Let's talk about the ending. Shakespeare already did this is Titus Andronicus. Except this time they cooked the entire thing, not just made it into pie. It's just so over the top; it's stupid.  I'm like, are you even kidding me?  I can't believe I wasted my time watching this film.  I'm giving this a 2/10.

Friday, June 7, 2013

American Psycho (2000)

Look at this blog post. The font is Times New Roman, set by Google Chrome's advanced settings.  It is an easily readable font in a decent size.  The background is pink, dainty and feminine.  It is exquisite.  My god, it even has a timestamp.



That is one of the few things Patrick Bateman cares about.  He notices that he is human in every way, except he believes he is void of most emotion.  However, he does have emotion. He has greed, rage, and in the end, panic. What he lacks is empathy.  Bateman is a textbook case of psychopathy (or what we would call a sociopath).

Bateman is trapped in the sterile, materialistic world of the yuppies in the 1980's.  The only thing they do is make reservations for various restaurants, and party in nightclubs. Their lives are shallow and meaningless, and Bateman cannot cope in this environment.  His desire to kill and destroy becomes stronger and he eventually becomes careless.  Although, there are few things hotter than seeing him run butt naked down a hallway brandishing a chainsaw.

Even after confessing to all these murders, no one cares.  He goes to one of his victim's homes, and it has been scrubbed clean and being shown to potential tenants.  No one cares if someone died there, they just want to own the beautiful apartment in a great location. Again, Bateman cannot escape the cold cleanliness of his world.  He gets no rush from the killings.  He received no catharsis from confessing.  Nothing changed.  Nobody will miss the victims, and no one acknowledges the murders.  And we are left feeling as empty as Bateman does.  This film receives a 6/10.