Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fight Club (1999)

Today's film is Fight Club, based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk.  A graphic novel sequel is supposed to be out by 2015.  This movie is not just about fighting and violence at all.  It's much deeper than that.  One could write an entire thesis paper based on the many aspects of this film.  Hopefully I can touch on a few.

I am Jack's disorder
The narrator of the film  (played by Edward Norton) is affected by Dissociative Identity Disorder.  His alter ego is the reckless Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt).  After watching this again, I could see all the glimpses of Tyler in the beginning scenes.  I noticed that Tyler works nights, while the narrator works days.  That could explain why the narrator is an insomniac, because he's working multiple shifts.  The narrator asks, "Is Tyler my bad dream, or am I Tyler's?"  I see Tyler as the narrator's way of escaping from the real world of business, commercials, and materialism.  But, he can't fully let go in the beginning of the film.  That's why we see the glimpses.  Then, he sees Tyler as another person, the person he is slowly becoming.  Then, finally he sees the truth about him, that he is a separate personality.

I am Jack's Noble Truths
The basics of Buddha's teachings are known as the "Four Noble Truths".  Basically the truths revolve around suffering and how to stop it.  Suffering can be caused by the desire for material goods, something that can never be sated because there's always new stuff being advertised.  So we look at Ikea catalogs and through our Pinterest and get new ideas about what we have to have.  We let these things define us, or as Tyler says, "The things you own end up owning you".  After the Narrator loses everything, he becomes comfortable living in a dilapidated house with old furniture and having to shut the power off in the rain.  He even claims that he's "enlightened".  Fighting, and later mayhem, are his means of discovering himself.  Tyler mentions the hunter/gatherer aspect of men.  We were never meant to live a sedentary life in an office and this is his way of rebelling.

I am Jack's knowledge of weaponry.
I found it interesting how specific the gun the narrator mentioned 'someone' might bring to his office.  It's an Armalite AR-10 carbine gas-powered semi-automatic.  Most AR-10s are fully automatic, but there were some semi-automatics created for civilian use.  Armalite stopped manufacturing these weapons in 1959 and sold its rights to Colt.  Later, in 1995, Eagle Arms (which became the new Armalite Inc) bought these rights and starting making AR-10B rifles, which are not modeled after the original gun at all; but rather the AR-15 (a better designed version of the gun, imo).  Anyways, the AR-10 had its share of problems, but with modern technology, it has improved drastically.  Today, there is the AR-10B and AR-10A, which look similar but are so functionally different that they cannot use each other's magazines.  I mean, it's obvious the narrator is talking about the AR-10A, but why be so specific about the gun?  Why mention the brand name?  Because this is his Ikea-filled apartment all over again! ("Those weren't just some sticks of furniture! That was me!") The narrator is becoming more comfortable with the idea of mayhem, but has been looking up guns based on the brand.  He's still a slave to brands.  He hasn't changed yet.

Marla is the only woman in the entire film.  She's played by Helena Bonham Carter.  However, she's the same persona in all her films.  I think maybe she just wandered on set one day and they kept filming.  When I first watched this, she was the one who made me realize the narrator and Tyler were the same person.  Such as by asking who Tyler was talking to, and what did he mean by saying "us".  Through her, I realized he's the same person long before it was revealed.

Before I watched this again, I read up on different ways to make soap.  I'm trying to be more self-sufficient and use natural products.  What Tyler is using is the hot process method - so instead of leaving the soap out for 4 to 6 weeks to cure, he cooks the soap until it's done. This can take up to two hours instead of weeks.  Everything Tyler says he uses to make soap is true; I'm just not sure about the whole soap turning into nitroglycerin thing.  Every time Tyler started talking about chemical and natural ways to make explosives, I just nodded my head because I failed chemistry and have no idea what he is talking about.  That's the whole reason why I haven't tried to make soap by myself yet.  If something goes wrong I don't know how to fix it.

That's everything I can think of.  Although there are violent aspects, the film is critical of the flaws of our society.  The mass media has transformed us from hunters/gatherers/explorers into consumers.  Was destroying the financial center the right way to change things?  Not really; the government will just bail out the banks again.  I will give this film a 9/10.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Today's film is A Hard Day's Night, a "documentary" about the Beatles.  They travel to a show in trains and cars, get mobbed by teenagers, and put on shows.  On top of this, they have to deal with Paul's creepy grandfather.

The movie's plot is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, so the only reason to watch this is the music.  This is the kind of movie I could put in for a long car trip, just to listen to the music.  Azalea kept signing "Sing!" so I had to sing every single song.  A lot of them I didn't even know, but I sang them anyway.

The best part was right at the 1 hour mark, Azalea fell asleep!  I can never get her to sleep.  Sometimes she stays up all night until morning and is still not tired. The gentle music must have lulled her to sleep.  In this case, this is one of the best movies ever.

If you like the Beatles' music, then you will enjoy this movie.  If not, then don't watch it, because that's all it is. I will give this movie a 5/10.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) (1930)

Today's film is Der blaue engel (The Blue Angel).  It started off very funny.  Immanuel Rath is a bumbling English professor that is virtually disliked by almost all his students.  Instead of attending class, they sneak off to The Blue Angel, a club featuring variety acts and lots of alcohol.  Rath discovers his students gawking at some postcards in the middle of class.  Turns out this postcards are pinups of Lola Lola, a caberet singer at the club.

Rath catches the nerdiest student and makes him tell him where the others are going.  The nerd tells him to go to The Blue Angel.  He does, in hopes of catching his students off guard there and taking them back to school.  While there, he meets Lola and is enchanted by her.

One thing I noticed was that sad clown was everywhere Rath went.  The sad clown's face was hilarious.  He didn't have to do anything, he just had that face.  I wondered why they kept showing the sad clown.  Was it a foreshadowing of events to come?  What is the significance of the sad clown?

Later, Professor Rath returns to class.  One of the students has been drawing cartoons of the professor.  And they're really good drawings!  He still can't control his class and another professor comes to speak with him.  He tells Rath not to get mixed up with a woman like Lola.  Rath claims that Lola is his future wife.

Rath returns to The Blue Angel to see and Lola and the crew packing up to go to another gig.  Rath gives her a ring and proposes.  Lola laughs in his face.  However, for some reason I can't figure out, she does marry him!  Instead of Lola staying with Rath while he teaches,  Rath goes with her on the road.  He lives off her salary, and eventually becomes a sad clown himself.  He looks really rundown, like he's given up on life.

The leader of the crew books another gig at The Blue Angel, with Rath the sad clown as the headlining entertainment.  Rath is horrified and embarrassed at having to return to his college town.  Everyone knew him as a professor, and now he's just some clown.  What's worse,  Lola is sneaking around with other, younger guys behind his back.

Rath is so embarrassed (and upset that Lola's with someone else) that he runs back to his classroom.  This segment looks like it was lighted with a flashlight.  It really does.  Then, it shows that Rath has laid down on his desk, his fingers gripping it tight so he can't let go.  It appears as if he's dead.  Maybe he gave up on life.  The moral of the story is: don't get mixed up with loose women or you'll turn into a clown and die.  Wow.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tootsie (1982)

Today's film is Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman.  He plays Michael, an actor who is known for being impossibly difficult.  Unable to find a job (that doesn't involve being in a restaurant), he dresses as a woman for a part.  Unexpectedly, he gets the job and has to maintain the persona of a woman the entire time.  Through his role, he becomes an inspiration for women everywhere.

So this is listed as a "comedy drama".  What does that mean?  It means there is an equal balance of serious content and humor.  Well, I couldn't take it seriously because it's Dustin Hoffman in drag, and I found the humor part of it tiring.

What happens to Michael as he stays dressed as a woman?  Everything you could expect would happen to him.  He wants to tell a girl he likes her, but can't reveal his true self and lose his job.  An older man falls in love with him, and he can't reveal that he's not actually an older woman.  So predictable.  Everything about this is cliche and lame.

This movie is a total waste of time.  I'm giving it a 4/10.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kurenai no buta (Porco Rosso) (1992)

Today's animated feature is Porco Rosso, not as magical or romantic as most Miyazaki films, but still fun.  It's about an Italian pilot living on an island in the Adriatic Sea who spends his time flying and bounty hunting for sea plane pirates.  He's cursed to have the face of a pig because he's so pigheaded.  Azalea really enjoyed watching this because of all of the seaplanes flying and because it's funny.

At times Porco reveals his pigginess, for example not wanting Fio to design his plane because she's a girl.  But other times he acts like a gentleman, and we can see glimpses of his real human face.  Azalea was most excited to hear Gina sing.  She recognized her voice right away.  She's Susan Egan, the same actress that plays Meg in Hercules.  And Azalea absolutely loves Hercules.  So, thinking Gina was Meg made the movie even better for her.

The seaplane pirates hire an American named Curtis (played by Cary Elwes) to defeat Porco.  Everything culumintates in a race between the two.  If Curtis wins, he gets to marry Fio.  If Porco wins, Curtis will have to pay the bill for Porco's new plane.

It's obvious who wins, but not how we expect them to.  It's a simple story; in fact the most simple Miyazaki film I have ever seen.  But there's still the magical element, fun characters, and lots of flying (flying always figures heavily into these films).  Even though it wasn't the best, I will still rate it a 6/10.

Friday, July 26, 2013

House of Wax (1953)

I watched this because of Vincent Price.  I didn't expect it to have so many cheap 3D gags such as the guy playing paddleball (a rubber ball attached with elastic to a wooden paddle that is the most frustrating game ever).  Luckily, we live in the future and have evolved way past needing 3D gimmicks for our films.  :)

So, this film is about Professor Jarrod, played by Vincent price, who is a talented sculptor.  He runs a wax museum and creates wonderful lifelike figures for it.  He focuses on real life people from history,  such as Joan of Arc and Cleopatra.  His business associate tries to get him to do a "Chamber of Horrors" to bring in the dollars, but Jarrod refuses to stoop that low.  The associate sets the place on fire, with Jarrod inside, in order to cash in on the insurance.

Jarrod escapes, but is badly burnt.  His face is disfigured and his hands are rendered useless.  He pretends to use a wheelchair, but that is so no one will suspect him when he goes on his nightly sprees for more victims.  It turns out that he is now using the bodies of real humans for his wax sculpture pieces!  He decides to use the beautiful Sue Ellen as his prized Marie Antoinette figure.  I see where this is going...

Jarrod's Mask
What's up with Professor Jarrod's mask?  He wears it a lot during the film to hide his burnt scarred face.  When he speaks his jaw moves normally, and the skin stretches and moves normally to show his expressions.  Yet when Sue Ellen punches him, it shatters!  It wasn't a rubber mask; it was made of wax and was hard.  How did his face move?

Back to film
That's it.  It was a simple story and a fun horror movie.  I have so much fun watching Vincent Price movies. This film was wonderfully terrible.  I will give it a 4/10.

PS: I have heard so much from friends about how great The Conjuring is!  I am so excited about watching this, but I may have to wait a while.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rain Man (1988)

Earlier, I watched this exciting Ted Talk about this guy and his performance in a memory competition.  Apparently memory competitions are a thing.  He trained with Kim Peek, the man who inspired Rain Man.  He is autistic and has the ability to memorize entire phone books.  Everything the character (played by Dustin Hoffman) could do, he did.  It was amazing to learn about someone with such great powers of memory.  It was said that people like him store their memories in a different area of the brain than most people.  They store random facts (like phone books) in the part of the brain that hosts location (places and landscapes) memory.  So, if we can remember a beach we visited long ago, they remember full calendars and schedules.
So, now I know that the Rain Man is a real person!

So, in the film, we first meet Charlie, who is played by Tom Cruise.  He is a shady car dealer who owes a great deal of money to someone.  When he dad passes, he returns home, hoping to claim a huge inheritance. To his shock, he doesn't get any money, instead he gets his dad's prized car!  The very car that sparked the argument with his dad that lead to them hating each other! This is his dad's final "go fuck yourself" from the afterlife.
Charlie tracks down the money to an institute, where it now belongs to his older brother, Raymond.  Charlie didn't even know he had a brother!  Raymond is an autistic savant that lives by a strict routine.  How can he cope when Charlie takes him away from his home at the institute?

Charlie is forced to drive all the way to California because Raymond refuses to fly.  He has studied the amount of fatal crashes each airline has, and concluded driving is safer.  There is no explaining to him that flying is actually the safest option.  Remember at the end, he travels by train, too.  Trains are really fast and fun (also relaxing).  

Throughout the film, Raymond's quirks irritate Charlie to no end.  But soon he learns that Raymond has an amazing gift for math and memorization.  So, he does the logical thing and lets him win big at a casino.  During filming  Dustin Hoffman (who played Raymond) would wander off to play blackjack and had to have someone watch him so he would stop.

As Charlie gets to know Raymond, his attitude changes.  This is the first time he's spent with his brother that no one told him he had.  He learns that Raymond is the "Rain Man" who used to sing lullabies to him when he was little.  Rain Man was simply how he pronounced Raymond.  Later, Raymond's caretakers track them down and demand him back.  Now, Charlie is less concerned about the money and more concerend about losing his brother again.  He realizes that Raymond being in the stable environment where he knows his caretakers would be the best thing.  Raymond boards a train with them to return home, but not before saying goodbye to his "main man Charlie".

Both Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman did exceptional jobs portraying their characters.  That really made the difference in this film.  I will rate this a 9/10.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Das Boot (1981)

Today's film is Das Boot, an awesome drama about life on a submarine with lots of explosions.  What I enjoyed most was the realism of how cramped the sub (or U-boat) was, and how it showed that governments don't necessarily represent the people.

Daily Life on the Sub

What struck me the most was simply showing how cramped the sub was and knowing how many people lived on it.  One bathroom for 50 men?  Yeah,  my sisters couldn't even share one bathroom properly.  I did like how when the sailors were running through the sub, the cameraman would follow, and it would look like I was running through the sub, too!  The filmmakers filmed everything from the inside of the sub instead of being in a huge set, to give a true sense of claustrophobia.

Inside my great-grandfather's sub.  I didn't take any photos
myself so this is the best one I could find.

This film gave me a greater appreciation for my great-grandfather, who served on a sub similar to this.  His sub was sent on several missions from 1941-1943.  A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to tour his exact sub.  Everything was left exactly as it was from 1943.  I could not believe how tiny and close everything was!  Also, all the old fashioned technology they used was so neat!  Granted, this sub held 65 men while the one in the film held 50,  but people still slept on hammocks that were stacked on top of each other.  Even though I have been in a sub, I never got to see on in action.  This film combined the small spaces with the panic of everyone experiencing the explosions (mostly depth charges from a destroyer).  Also, as the sub dives deeper and deeper, the pressure increases and could destroy it!

The Sailors 

You know, it's really easy to dismiss these people because they're fighting for Nazi Germany.  But they're not.  They're fighting for Germany.  Just like they did the World War I and everything else.  People serve their country, not their governments.  In fact, it only appears like there's one true Nazi on the entire boat.  That's the clean-shaven one.  So when everyone goes to the fancy boat,  the Nazis celebrate him as the captain.  He apologizes and points out the true captain, that is bearded with his hat on and looks like he came from an Hemingway novel.

The main mission is to bomb the merchant ships while avoiding the destroyers.  But guess what?  The destroyers still find them and drop their depth charges on them!  The captain assumes that "they must have seen our periscope".  What he didn't know was that the Allies had developed radar and was using it to find submarines underwater.

The Strait of Gibraltar

The captain has been told that their sub must go through the Strait of Gibraltar to make it into the Mediterranean Sea.  Everyone is upset about this, and for good reason.  The strait has many varying depths, and the best way to go through it without being seen is to go at night and ride the currents.  I did some research and found that a total of 62 subs went through, and 9 sunk to the bottom.  Out of all these subs, not one ever returned to the Atlantic Ocean.  Not one.  That's bad news for these sailors.

It turns out that this sub actually does sink to the bottom.  It springs a leak, and with almost nothing working out the sub, the sailors bail out all the water with buckets.  And the sub rises to the surface and keeps going like nothing happened.  Really?  Are you kidding?  There is no way that I will buy that this could happen.  No way.  And then, once they reach land and are celebrating, an air raid appears and kills everyone.  Wow, all that work on the sub, and they die right afterwards.  That has to say something, but I don't know what.
Anyway, for the most part I enjoyed this film.  Even if you don't like long films, this has more than enough tension, panic, and explosions (literal explosions! Lots!) that will keep you entertained.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grease (1978)

Today's film is Grease, a musical set in the '50s. Since most people have seen this on the screen or stage, I am going to write what I felt watching this as a child:

It used to come on TV all the time when I was a kid, and I thoroughly believed that it was a documentary filmed during the '50s featuring daily life.  At the time, it didn't occur to me that the actors were supposed to be in high school because they were so old!  I knew that they had to be in some kind of school, but I thought it must be a college, and I wasn't in high school yet so I had never to compare it to.

I did not know this was made in 1978.  I thought it was filmed in real time in the 1950's.  It did a good job of portraying what I saw as daily life then.  They talked about how cool their cars were, raced their cars, went to the soda fountain, went to the drive thru theater and so on.

I thought "Beauty School Dropout" was such a funny song.  I did not like the more romantic songs because they are gross.  I did like Rizzo's song "There are worse things I could do" because she has a beautiful voice.  Nobody like the "greased lightning" song because my dad said you shouldn't dance while working on a car.

Lastly, I watched the school dance and did not understand what was going on (are all school dances filmed?).  Lastly, everyone goes to a carnival and Sandy shows up wearing a tight black outfit as opposed to normal clothes.  Then, everyone sings again, and Sandy and Danny take off in the car the guys sung about earlier.  The car flies away with them in it and no one says a word.  Just flies away.  What.
Isn't anyone going to ask how the car is flying or where it is going?  Does no one care? I'll give this film a 6/10 for being an entertaining musical, but it is hard for a child to understand.  Cause I didn't.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

 Can I just start off with a big "NOT SCARY"?  The story was so disjointed, and it was sort of split up into different short scenes based on which character was about to encounter the evil spirits.

The main story featured Riki, a nurse from the welfare agency sent to take care of a sick old woman living in her new house.  We soon find out the house holds a horrible secret, and houses evil spirits that will kill anyone who dares enter the house.

Now, no one just comes out and tells the backstory outright.  That would be boring.  But, through bits and pieces told throughout the film, I began to understand the secret of the dwelling.  A man believed his wife was cheating on him, so he killed her and their son.

The film isn't told in a full cohesive story.  It shows each character in a separate scene entering the house and suffering the consequences.  One character is a schoolgirl who goes in with her friends to scare themselves in the haunted house.  My friends and I used to do that all the time.  There are plenty of civil war legends and areas to visit if you want a good scare.  It's a lot of fun.  Anyway, it doesn't end well for any of them because the evil spirits get them.

I thought the makeup team did a fantastic job.  The ghosts had some kind of powdered sugar look to them and it was creepy.  The scariest part was when the ghost boy appeared under Riki's covers!  Under the covers should be the safest place against ghosts and he violated the rules!

Even though it was disjointed, it was creepy enough to hold my attention.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1948)

Lately I've been watching a lot of films from the 1940's and this one really struck me.  Not only because of its stark realism, but that it could have been made today and have been no different.  Everyone was struggling there back then.  It was almost impossible to find a job, and people took whatever they can get.  Same way we have recent college graduates working at Burger King and will wait years before anything is available in their field.

Antonio Ricci is someone who needs a job for his family, and actually gets one!  It requires a bicycle to go around town one.  Unfortunately, someone nicks it while he's on the job.  If he doesn't get this bike back, he'll lose his means of supporting his family.

Ricci, his friends, and his son Bruno, scour the city looking for the bike.  They also go to the market to look for bike parts, because it could have been stripped for its parts and sold bit by bit.  I had no idea Italians were so serious about their bikes!  The bike market was impressive.  It becomes apparent that the bike isn't just for his job, but for living a normal life as well.  Also, Ricci takes his son out to eat even though he's broke because he wants to show that he can take care of him and not to worry.  It's not his son's responsibility to worry, it's his own job.

Does Ricci get his bike back?  No, but life isn't always about happiness.  This movie left me feeling empty and hopeless about the future.  Even now, there are no jobs here.  At all.  I'm giving this film a 7/10.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pinocchio (1940)

Today's animated feature is Pinocchio, a moral tale that features no princesses at all.  But, it does have a fairy and that's enough for my daughter.

Geppetto is a lonely woodcarver who makes really neat clocks and toys.  But, he's lonely.  He has a cat and goldfish to keep him company, but one night he wishes on the wishing star (the evening/morning star; Venus actually) that his latest puppet creation would become a real boy.  He has named his puppet Pinocchio (I assume because it's made of pine)

That night, the Blue Fairy appears and grants his wish.  However, the puppet is to stay wooden until it proves itself worthy of becoming a real boy.  He must be unselfish and brave.  She dubs Jiminy Cricket, a bug that has snuck inside for warmth, as Pinocchio's "conscience".

Jiminy really sucks at being a conscience because he sleeps in while Pinocchio skips his first day of school to join a marionette group.  Stromboli, the puppet master, sees a gold mine in Pinocchio, the stringless puppet, and locks him in a birdcage.  The Blue Fairy appears to rescue him, but not until teaching him a lesson in honesty.

Next, Pinocchio gets tricked into going to Pleasure Island.  Some of the other moms were appalled that the kids in Pleasure Island were smoking. "How dare they let them smoke in a children's film".  But that's exactly the point.  Pinocchio is trying to learn right from wrong.  Right now the boys in Pleasure Island are destroying property, playing pool, staying up all night, and smoking.  These are all things little kids should not do.  So, they turn into jackasses. Literally.  This is fantastic contrast to others films of this era, which everyone, good or bad, smokes.  Many of our grandparents started smoking simply because their favorite actress smoked.

Later, it's up to Pinocchio to rescue his "father" Geppetto and his pets from the clutches of Monstro the evil whale.  His tactic for finding the whale is to walk around the bottom of the ocean yelling, "Monstro!" and it works!  He uses his wit to free everyone from the whale's stomach but is killed before he reaches shore.  The Blue Fairy appears later at their house (because it is now night, and she only appears at night in the movie) and rewards him for his selflessness and bravery in rescuing his family.  Suddenly, he transforms from a wooden puppet to a real boy.  And everyone is happy!

My daughter and I really enjoyed watching this film.  I feel it teaches a good message and had a high quality of animation.  Even though it was made long ago, it still remains one of the best animated features we have seen.  I will give it a 9/10.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Here's a rather forgetful atmospheric horror from the 1940's.  The only reason I watched it is because it was part of a classic horror double feature.  It stars Boris Karloff as the cabman Gray and also has Bela Lugosi in a bit part.

This film was based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It's about grave robbers, who provide an invaluable service to the medical community.  Back then, the study of anatomy was just getting serious, and the teachers needed cadavers for the students to dissect and study.  With not many bodies to go around, the grave robbers helped fill the quota.

One day, a woman comes in to the medical school with her injured daughter, and asks the head teacher to help her.  He refuses because he doesn't know enough about the spinal cord to help her (and because surgery there had never been performed before).  His eager student convinces a grave robber to get him a body so it can be dissected and so they can study the spine.  But with the graveyards being guarder, the robber kills someone instead.  This starts a whole spiral downward, where we learned the same thing happened years ago, and somehow the teacher had something to do with it.  The teacher's past is incredibly vague.  But will his guilt ever catch up with him?

Everyone's backstory is very vague in this film, and almost no one is likable or relatable.  I'm giving this film a 4/10.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rushmore (1998)

Today's film is Rushmore, a film about first love and immaturity.  It stars Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer, a prep student who is failing since he spends so much time at his endless extracurricular activities.  While on academic probation, he meets Miss Cross, a teacher in the elementary section of the school.  He spends much of his time flirting with her instead of studying.

If a math problem only takes up one blackboard, it's not
"the hardest math problem ever".

He becomes friends with Mr. Blume after hearing his speech at school.  Max convinces him to give him start up money for a giant aquarium (to impress Miss Cross).  Max starts breaking ground on the aquarium on what else but the school's baseball field.  Without asking permission from the school or even telling anyone there what was going on.  So he gets expelled.

Meanwhile, Mr. Blume meets Miss Cross and falls in love with her.  This begins a series of pranks between him and Max, who is jealous because Miss Cross wants nothing to do with a 15-year-old.  The pranks turn deadly when Max snips the brakeline of Mr. Blume's car.

Turns out Miss Cross doesn't want either of them and they have been wasting their time.  They were friends before she got between them.  Max apologizes to Mr. Blume by creating a play awfully similar to Apocalypse Now.  So, now they are friends again and have matured in some way.  Also, Max is dating someone his own age.

That's really it.  It's a very simple story, and to me was very predictable.  This has to be my least favorite of Wes Anderson's films.  It didn't have that same feeling at all.  I'm going to rate this a 5/10.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sleeper (1973)

Today's film is Sleeper, a great comedy with a sci fi twist.  Yes, it is a bit dated since it's what 1973 thought the future would be, but that actually makes it even funnier.  Most of the comedy is physical, and is accompanied by music by none other than the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  I got to see them in New Orleans and it was awesome.  The comedy scenes are straight out of a silent film, like a Buster Keaton comedy.

Miles is from 1973 and is frozen following a botched routine surgery.  He is subsequently thawed out 200 years later, and the doctors hope he can help them overthrow their oppressive government.  Later, Miles escapes the clutches of the government disguised as a robot butler.  How everyone doesn't see him as a person dressed up escapes me.

The vision of the future is also funny.  Everything is still analog, such as the giant reel-to-reel film Miles learns how to use.  In the future, they learn that hot fudge and tobacco are very healthy for you and that they had been mistaken for many years.

One funny scene was when Miles (the main character) is stealing fruit from a farm when he is caught.  The fruit in the future is like 6 ft long, so he carefully peels a 6 ft banana.  He and the person chasing him keep slipping on the huge banana peel over and over.  It is so funny, because you know, banana peels.

I really liked the character Luna, who meets Miles disguised as a robot butler.  She dramatically transforms from a gentle poet artist to a warrior in the woods.  She rescues Miles when he is captured and brainwashed by the evil government. She and her really hot fellow rebel revive his memory by pretending to be his parents at the dinner table.  This unfortunately cracks his brain and he becomes the lady from A Streetcar Named Desire for a while.

They do end up successfully rebelling against the government, but it doesn't make a difference because eventually another terrible government will take its place.  Like in real life.  I enjoyed this film and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed the physical comedy.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Muppet Movie (1979)

How much can I say about a film that has been loved for generations?  My grandmother watched it with my mom, my mom watched it with me, and now I watch it with my daughter.  My family has had this film memorized for years and my uncle gave me his copy of the soundtrack.  This film means more to my family than any other. For that, this film gets a 10/10.

I understand that the muppets are played by human beings.  My mom explained to me how Kermit was able to ride a bike.  Still, to me the image is fascinating.  Here is a supposed puppet moving a bike and no one is touching him!  I know it; Kermit is real. Actually, they all are and here's proof of them riding bikes:

So, in this movie, Kermit the Frog leaves his swamp to go to sunny California to audition as a movie star. On the way, he meets the rest of the muppets cast while avoiding Doc Hopper who wants to kill him/use him as a spokesfrog for his frog legs restaurant.  There are many funny instances, such as instead of telling Dr. Teeth's band their backstory (because that would bore the audience), Fozzie and Kermit hand him the screenplay.  The real stars of this movie are the muppets, but there are several human cameos, such as Steve Martin as a waiter and Mel Brooks as the mad German scientist who wants to electrocute Kermit.

The best part of this movie is the music!  Rainbow Connection is the best and totally gives me frisson.  Frisson is the tingly feeling you get when you hear a song that connects with your emotions.  In another song, Gonzo sings, "There's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met" as the camera pans over the muppets.  So many feels!

Life is a movie
keep believing, keep pretending
We've done just what we set out to do
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blue Velvet (1986)

This movie reminds me of Twin Peaks, because they both show a hidden underside of darkness within small town American life, and they both star Kyle MacLachlan.  This time, Kyle MachLachlan plays Jeffrey, who is home from college to take care of things after his father's stroke.  One day he discovers a severed human ear in a field.  The police are not super helpful, so Jeffrey, along with a police detective's daughter, do some investigating of their own.  This starts a chain reaction that opens up the dark side of town to Jeffrey and endangers his life.

 I feel like the movie is set in the early 1970's, mainly because of the costumes they wore (especially the men's shirts).  The town where it is set has the typical small town atmosphere of a '50s sitcom, yet as time goes on, we see parts of it decaying by drug use and crime.  However, this side is hidden very well under its old fashioned charm.  The main song playing throughout is "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton, which was released in 1963.  Frank plays this on a cassette tape, which became popular after 1968.
 There are some references to Lincoln's assassination in this film.  For example, Dorothy's apartment is on Lincoln St and the bad guy's name is Frank Booth (John Wilkes Booth).  Jeffrey shoots him in the head with a little gun.  I don't know why these references are here though.

I did like seeing how the atmosphere changed from the cheesy happy small town to a more realistic town with dangers.  Jeffrey has no idea what's hes getting into when he mixes with crazy people.  Also, all the crime is centered by the drug trade.  Illegal drugs would never have found their way into such a happy place, would it?  There are subtle warnings about the dark underside of the town, such as the roses changing from yellow to red in the same scene.

Overall, I wasn't impressed by this movie. It was mainly an amateur detective story, like Scooby Doo, with lots of softcore porn.  But it was good for a soap opera-type drama. I will give this film an 8/10.  I enjoyed Dennis Hopper's performance as the perpetually enraged Frank Booth.  My favorite line was:

"Heineken? Fuck that Shit!  Pabst Blue Ribbon!!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vertigo (1958)

The movie starts at with two cops doing parkour.  One is really shitty and falls off the roof.  The other one is dangling from the roof because he can't jump worth anything.  This one is played by James Stewart.  He better not fuck up this movie.  James Stewart has his leg propped up and mentions he's getting the cast around his middle taken off.  He then proceeds to stand up without any help from his cane, walk around, and bend down with no effort at all.  He picks up his cane and says that soon he'll be "without this miserable thing".  Haven't seen him use it at all.  Honestly, it's too short for him.  He would be a lot better off with a taller cane.  His real problem is his acrophobia, the fear of heights.  It gives him vertigo and reminds him of the high ledge he almost fell off.

So, Scottie, the cop played by James Stewart decides to retire. Maybe he should go on vacation. No, instead he stays in his town of San Francisco.  Good idea, there are no steep hills there or any tall buildings. He'll totally be safe.  While "relaxing", his ship-building friend asks him a favor.  He wants Scottie to follow his wife, not because she is cheating, but because she exhibits strange behavior.  Scottie gets to see his friend's wife at a restaurant.  She has platinum blonde hair, is wearing a dark blue and green dress. Then, we see Scottie looking at her out of the corner of his eye. As her profile comes into full view, the music swells really loud. That's "he wants to bang her" music.

So, the wife, Madeleine, is supposedly possessed by the spirit of her dead grandmother, who wants to kill her. Years ago, her grandmother killed herself and now I guess wants to kill her too, I don't know.  Anyway, Scottie follows her to an art gallery to look at her portrait, get flowers, drop them off at her own grave, then go out and look at the bay.  Suddenly, she jumps!  If you have ever been out there, then you know that water is freezing!  Scottie rescues her and takes her back to his house.  Eventually they're going to kiss, I know it.  Madeleine is 24 years old while Scottie is 50!  That's the difference in ages between my dad and I.  Girl, why would you want to kiss anyone that old?  This is my reaction when I saw that:

Everything leads up to this old mission.  Madeleine "remembers" everything about it, then runs for the bell tower.  Scottie can't follow because of his fear.  He sees her body fall and flees.  He and her husband go to court.  The lawyer guy totally burns Scottie all about his weakness, letting two people fall off the roof, and running away like a chicken.  The look on his face is so great.  Later he has a tripped out acid dream and wakes up in a panic.  He actually looks scared now.  So he does have another emotion besides self-righteousness.

 Does he feel guilty for Madeleine's death?  Shouldn't he have taken her to a hospital after she jumped in the bay, knowing her family history of mental illness and suicide?  NO, wait, that's Madeleine right there.  She's alive!  Or is he seeing things? No, that's her definitely being alive. What is going on?  I have never seen this film before now and I am like "Whattt".  "Madeleine" is a lookalike named Judy who was hired to fake her suicide.  Madeleine's husband told him about her grandmother, the spirit possessing her, everything.  Judy was just an actor.  She jumped in the bay to affirm her 'suicidal' tendencies.  Madeleine's husband knew he couldn't follow Judy up the bell tower stairs, where he was waiting at the top to throw her lifeless body away.  Scottie doesn't know this yet, but is happy he has Madeleine back.  He begins the extremely creepy process of turning Judy into Madeleine.

All is going great until one fateful day when Judy is getting ready for dinner and puts on Madeleine's ugly necklace!  Scottie recognizes it immediately but stays silent.  Shit is about to go down. How can Judy be so careless and stupid?  She should have thrown the jewelry away a long time ago.

He takes her back to the bell tower and reveals that he knows everything about what she did.  In a panic, she leaps off the bell tower. So she's dead.  But what about him?  He gets to live.  Yes, he gets to live knowing he watched three people fall from a roof one three separate occasions and could never do anything to save them.  But wait, he shouldn't have been mad about Judy staying because she loved him.  Truthfully, he loved her too, he couldn't get the image of Madeleine out of his head.  He never loved Madeleine; he loved Judy-as-Madeleine.  He yelled at Judy that she was great at acting our her mannerisms, how would he know what she acted like?  He never met the woman before.  The only time he ever saw her was at the restaurant the first night and I'm not sure that was the real Madeleine either.  He would have no idea what the real Madeleine was like at all.  That's why he was so content to change Judy's appearance since that's all he noticed.  Dude is shallow.

I would never go so far as to call this a masterpiece, but it was enjoyable in most parts.  I will give it a 7/10.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

One of the best children's books comes to life in this animated feature.  The real world and the world beyond the tollbooth are distinctly separated.  The real world, only shown for a few minutes at the beginning and the end, is live action.  The rest of the movie takes place in the other world and is all animated.

The story:  Milo is a very bored child who randomly receives a gift in his house.  It's a tollbooth.  That is the strangest gift I have ever heard of.  He drives his toy car through the tollbooth and into adventure.
Milo is driving along, hoping to see the Castle in the Air.  He gets stuck in the Doldrums (where thinking is not allowed) and is rescued by the watchdog, Tock.  We encounter the town of Digitopolos (numbers and math) and Dictionopolos (letters and words).  We learn that everything's a mess because the two leaders have banished the princesses Rhyme and Reason.  Milo and Tock set out to rescue the princesses.

There's a lot missing from the book that could have made it into the movie.  I would have preferred a longer movie if it would have added these parts in.  It kind of seemed a little rushed towards the end.  Also, this movie was written and directed by Chuck Jones, so expect a lot of Looney Tunes type stuff.  Most of the Looney Tunes voice actors are at work too, and are easily recognizable.  Tock, the watchdog, looks like a larger version of Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The movie did a really nice job of showing the elements that made the book so enjoyable, which is hard for a book full of word puns.  Even though my daughter can't read the words yet, she really enjoyed watching this movie for the colorful characters and songs.  I will give this movie a 6/10.

Obligatory Adventure Time Picture!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Carmen Jones (1954)

Today's film is Carmen Jones.  It's a musical based on the opera Carmen, and set in modern times.  It takes place at an army camp near the time of the Korean War, where the lovely Carmen works in a factory making parachutes and flirts with anything that moves.  She sets her sights on Joe, who is happily engaged to the nice girl Cindy Lou and decides she must have him.

The actors playing Carmen and Joe had there singing voices dubbed over by actual opera singers, since they didn't have the range to sing opera.  This musical has the mostly the same music as Carmen, but the lyrics have all been changed to English and to fit the more modern situation.  However, this makes a lot of the singing awkward.  It's like it's trying too hard to fit the lyrics to the music perfectly and it doesn't work all the time.  Of course I loved the music, but that's thanks to the real opera.

I enjoyed Dorothy Dandridge's performance as the perpetually selfish Carmen.  She doesn't care that Joe is engaged, and she doesn't care that he'll get in trouble for not turning her in like he's supposed to.  She does wait for him to get out of jail, but after he kills someone for her and goes into hiding in Chicago, she's done.  She doesn't want to be in hiding with him, she wants to go out and party.  She goes shopping with another man's money and plans on leaving Joe, because the thrill of stealing another woman's man is gone now.  She reaches her end when the furious Joe strangles her outside of a boxing ring.  The ending is really important for me to mention because in the original opera, Carmen is killed near a bullfighting ring, while this Carmen is killed near a boxing ring! Another clever way of modernizing the story.  Also, Cindy Lou may be a nice girl, but she travels to Chicago determined to get her man back. I was proud of her.  Overall I enjoyed this musical, but not much of the lyrics themselves.  I will give it a 5/10.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Today's film is Enter the Dragon.  I was so excited to be able to see Bruce Lee kick Chuck Norris' ass, but this isn't even the right movie.  The movie I was thinking of is The Way of the Dragon.  What is it with all these fighting movies and the name Dragon?  But fear not, Bruce Lee will still fight and still destroy another large white person, by the name of Bob Wall.

In this film, Bruce Lee plays Lee (of course) of the Shaolin Temple.  He was sent by his teacher and some British officer guy to an island owned by a former student of the Temple.  Soon, he is joined by two Americans, and they all enter a fighting tournament held on the island.  The former student's name is Han, and he uses the island to prepare opium for selling.  He is an evil drug lord. oooo.

My favorite character was Williams.  He had a great fighting style, or maybe lack of style, but it was effective.  Plus he had a very relaxed attitude and sported quite the fro.  I knew that he could win, but Han has dirty tricks and defeated him.  Sadly, the actor playing Williams, Jim Kelly, recently passed away on June 29th of cancer.

So, this movie is more of a crime caper with our heroes defeating the evil drug lords (because drugs are bad, mmmkay) with some kung fu fighting thrown in there.  However, there are a lot of opportunities to kung fu fight!  I love all the fighting sequences, especially when Lee in down in the drug-making basement fighting the guards.  Lee moved so fast they had to film him at 32 fps (frames per second) and then slow the film down to the usual 24 fps so we can actually see his moves.

What I really didn't understand was Han's fake hand. Is it his left or right hand?  When he's fighting Lee, the fake hand switches several times.  When he takes the hot white guy (I was too distracted by his chest hair to learn his name) on a tour, he shows off all of the hand weapons, which are all left.  But when they reach the skeleton hand, that's a right hand! When he slashes at Lee with his knife hand, that's his right hand, but he kills Williams with his left hand! If only one of his hands is supposed to be fake, why is it so hard to keep using the same hand in every take? Why?

Overall, I liked this movie because it's full of action, and will later be alluded to in many other films.  I mean a lot.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spellbound (1945)

Are you looking for a mystery filled with suspense? Or, are you looking for a sappy romance?  Why not both? This movie is suitable for the whole family!

Dr. Constance Peterson is a gifted psychiatrist who works at a mental hospital.  All the doctors are eagerly awaiting their new director to arrive.  He does, and it turns out to be Dr. Edwardes, played by Gregory Peck.  He is so handsome.  Upon seeing him, Constance drastically changes from a doctor into a drooling high school girl encountering her first crush.  For the most part, I don't blame her, but come on, try to stay a little professional.  It is rather funny to how she changes so much once she sees a hot guy.

Although blinded by love at first, Constance, played by Ingrid Bergman, realizes that something is not quite right with Dr. Edwardes.  I noticed this too, albeit way before she did.  What nails it is she compares her signed copy of his book with a note he had written earlier.  The handwriting doesn't match at all!  Who is this man?

Unfortunately, the other doctors suspect something is wrong as well.  They bring in the police to investigate the disappearance of the real Dr. Edwardes. The imposter flees for his life, and Constance soon follows out of love and a strong determination to cure him.  What ensues is an exciting chase as Constance and her reluctant patient deftly flee police.

Despite not knowing who he really is, Constance vows to protect him at all costs.  It turns out he has amnesia and doesn't actually know who he is; he simply assumed the role of his therapist.  Constance is determined to use her skills to unlock his mind and let him discover who he really is.  But is that dangerous to do when they are no longer in the safety of the hospital?  What if he's a serial killer who murdered Dr. Edwardes and assumed his identity?  Remember this exact thing will happen in Hitchcock's later film, Psycho.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of the over-acting.  For the most part I like Gregory Peck's performance, much more so than the last two films I reviewed with him in them.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Today's film is I Walked With a Zombie.  No, it's not the zombies I normally think of - mindless beings with an overwhelming urge to eat people.  It's more like the legendary zombies of Haiti where the dead are awakened as mindless slaves.

Betsy is a nurse in Canada who is sent to the fictional isle of San Sebastian to care for a sugar-planter's wife. His wife, Jessica, appears okay but is in some sort of stupor following a high fever.  Soon we learn about the voodoo beliefs of the locals, but don't worry, this isn't The Skeleton Key.  It's more or less a sweet love story with terrible acting.

I wish I had gotten a chance to see Jessica as she was before her illness.  I know that she enjoyed breakfast in bed while lying on a lace pillow, and I know she liked brioche, but what about her personality?  She fell in love with her husband's half-brother, does that make her a terrible person?  I don't see her as an overall materialistic person, especially with no stores on the island.  I feel for her, being trapped between a controlling mother in law and an abusive husband, wanting to be with someone who loved her but never can.  Her husband told Betsy about his wife trying to leave, and that he told her "he would keep her by force if necessary" and that she made him do things.  If someone hurts you and then says that you "made" them do it, that's an abuser.  Sure, he regrets it now because she's all but dead to him.

Is Jessica a zombie?  No.

How do I know this?  She drowns.  A zombie cannot die by drowning because they are already dead.  But what about her walking towards the houmfort?  Earlier in the film she frightened Betsy as she walked up the stairs at night.  Now she's walking towards the gate.  She's sleepwalking, like she does many nights.  But now she's dead, and this gives a chance for the beautiful nurse to be with the handsome widower, just like they wanted.

Overall, this is a meh film with great lighting and cinematography. I will give it a 6/10.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tetsuo (The Iron Man) (1989)

Today's film is Tetsuo (The Iron Man), and is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen.  What gives it a boost is its great cyberpunk soundtrack, which gives a feel to the era of floppy disks and lets me think, "Indeed, this man is turning into a mecha-robot".

His whole body is turning metal, including his
dreaded "drill boner".
The plot, which is hidden under layers and layers of weirdness, is about a metal fetishist that inserts a rusty metal rod into his leg and runs out into the street.  A man hits him with his car, dumps his body in the woods, then has sex with his girlfriend right next to the body.  The man starts growing metal all over his body.  He meets the metal fetishist again, but who is indeed alive.  He has super metal powers and he tries to destroy in in a fit of revenge.  But he cannot! They are metal!  They belong together! And together they will turn the entire Earth into rust!!  Way more funny than scary, great campy film.

The special effects are campy, but i did enjoy the stop motion animation sequences.  I also enjoyed the sped up filming.  A lot of the elements in this movie reminded me of Akira, an anime released around the same time.  I will give this movie a 6/10.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boudu sauvé des eaux (Boudu Saved from Drowning) 1932

Today's film is Boudu sauvé des eaux (Boudu Saved from Drowning).  I'm so happy to be able to share a film like this on my blog.  Sometimes it's hard watching foreign films, since I'm the only one in the family who can read subtitles.  But, Boudu Saved from Drowning was a hidden gem and was funny.

Mr. Lestingois runs a bookstore and lives with his wife and housekeeper (mistress).  While people-watching, he spies a bum jumping into the river.  He runs out and jumps in the water to save him.
All these people are watching, but only one jumps in to save him.
Mr. Lestingois brings the bum/tramp/whatever into his house, where we learn his name is Boudu.  Boudu is unnaturally demanding for a tramp.  He doesn't want wine, he wants water. He doesn't want their soup, he wants sardines.  Anyway, Boudu's behavior is grotesque, carefree, and mostly funny. (Also near the end he does a Chaplin impression, who is the most famous tramp).

Mr. Lestingois buys him a new suit and shoes.  He lets Boudu stay in his house as his guest.  But since this is a comedy about the difference in classes, we are again reminded that this guy is a bum.  He is rude, dirty, perverted, and crass.  And he is never grateful, not once.  

Mr. Lestingois is not without fault.  He's always sleeping with his cute housekeeper when he gets the chance. He says his wife won't fulfill him.  Maybe she's depressed, I'm not going to judge her.

The housekeeper orders Boudu to shine his shoes before going out. So he does. With his bare hands.  Then, proceeds to wipe them all over Mrs. Lestingois'  stuff.  She confronts him angrily and he apparently rapes her.  But she's cool with it, probably since this is the first time in a long time a man has paid attention to her.  So she starts loving on Boudu, while her husband cheats on her with the housekeeper.  Soon, they catch each other in the act.  Now what are they supposed to do?  Lol, not telling.

This movie was well done. And, it was restored so the picture was really crisp.  I thought it was one of the funniest old films I have seen. I will give it an 8/10.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

La planète sauvage (The Fantastic Planet) 1973

Today's animated feature is The Fantastic Planet.  What a super trippy ride this was.  The animation style was somewhat like Monty Python and the weird alien-like creatures were straight out of The Yellow Submarine.

There are giant blue aliens called "traags" and there are humans like us called "oms".  Sometimes these oms are kept as pets, but most are wild.  The wild ones are like pests to the traags.  The story focuses on one pet om who has a kind young owner named Tiwa who keeps him near her during her school lessons.  She's homeschooled and gets her lessons from a headset.

Since one week on this planet equals one year on Earth, the humans grow quickly. Tiwa's pet, who she names Terr, learns everything he can from the headset and eventually runs off to join the wild oms.  Terr teaches the other oms to read, and they work together to escape the traags who are trying to exterminate them.  They build a rocketship and wind up on the Fantastic Planet, where they find weird headless statues of naked people.  These are actually important to the plot, and the oms destroy them with a laser beam.

Finally, the giant traags take the little oms seriously.  They stop exterminating them like bugs and they learn to live together. Why?  Because one person learns how to read and spreads knowledge throughout the om community.  The lesson: Knowledge is power. Or, as G.I. Joe says, "Knowing is half the battle." I will give this film a 7/10.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rope (1948)

When I started the movie, I was quite surprised to see it was in color.  Guess I'm just used to Hitchcock films being black and white. Then I see that it stars James Stewart and I'm like blleeehhhhh.

The film opens with a man screaming.  It is then revealed that he is being strangled. Wait. Question mark. ???
How can someone scream while being strangled??

The man is David and he was murdered by Brandon, a delightful sociopath and his timid friend/possible lover Phillip.  Brandon states that he felt nothing while killing David, and afterwards felt exhilarated.  I think he wanted Phillip to feel the same way, except like most normal people, Phillip has a conscience.
Wait, did they stick him in a clothes trunk? Isn't his body going to stink up the party the fellows are hosting? Well, let's think about that.  Since he's inside in an air-conditioned apartment in nice weather, it'll take a few days for his body to decompose. It's not like he's outside in the hot sun.  So no, he won't smell for a while.

Unfortunately, some parties have a wet blanket. And here he comes: James Stewart!  Oh, the pauses between his words are so long, I want to sleep through all his little speeches.  He has no inflection in his voice, just monotone drivel.  He's their old professor, Rupert, and is all like blah blah blah Murder is a privilege for the superior beings.  Murder is an art. Hey, let's have strangulation days.  Then, he acts all horrified (act is a subjective term here) when Brandon acts upon the very thing he was preaching all throughout his classes. So he doesn't go by his own words? That would make him a liar.  Rupert might have been a more engaging character if he wasn't played by such a boring actor.  Also, if his words were harder to interpret instead of being so straightforward. I mean, everything he says makes perfect sense. I can't wait till he has to explain himself in front of a jury.  Brandon is going to blame his actions on listening to his professor's teachings and innocently acting upon them.

And the ending? Rupert shoots out the window to alert people to call police?  Why doesn't he call 911 like a normal person?  Oh, I suppose he wants the inferior people below him to call while he calmly sits there with the gun.  I hear gunshots outside all night long, how am I supposed to know the exact location of them? How would the police know so soon?  What a horrible way to end a movie.  I enjoyed watching it though, except for the addition of James Stewart.  And, all of the movie poster pictures I found either have him holding the rope or a gun.  They didn't even bother to put the real stars on the poster! I'm giving this movie a 6/10.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day (1996)

Today's movie is Independence Day.  Watching this movie today has been a family tradition for 16 years.  I'd like to share that tradition with you by providing this review.  In addition to this, I also watched a making of documentary which was very informative.  They used tiny buildings in miniature towns.  I loved seeing how they made all the special effects.

Plot:  Aliens have come to destroy the world because they want to use up all our natural resources. Resources, you know, like oil?  We can't let them take our planet's oil; that belongs to America!

Throughout the film, we see various people cope with the alien's destruction and travel to find safe haven.  Eventually, they end up at Area 51, which for a super secret base in the middle of the desert, is super easy to find.  Notable characters include Captain Steven Hiller, played by Will Smith, and David, played by Jeff Goldblum.  The combination of these actors makes this a very entertaining movie.

There are several mistakes and scenes that make me say "what?!".  For example, David claims he can 'triangulate' Connie's location inside the White House and proceeds to set only one antenna.  Also, in the scenes set in Area 51, the beautiful white desert could only be the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, while Area 51 should be in Nevada where the film claims it is.  Also, in the beginning where the ships are passing over the moon: the American flag should be all white by now because there's nothing to protect it from the sun's rays, and the footprints would not be destroyed by vibrations because the moon's atmosphere is too thin to allow them.  I could actually write a book about how many mistakes there are.

The entire world is saved thanks to the efforts of the United States of America.  Why? Because America is great and this is a movie about our Independence Day.  When the aliens take control and block out the satellites, what do we do?  All of the world sends messages to each other using Morse Code, which was invented in America!  When David is demonstrating the alien ship's forcefield, he uses a Coke can - which was made in America.  And he creates the virus using an American laptop, even though I had no idea one could write a virus program using an Apple.  

And speaking of the ship's forcefield, how convenient was it that out of the millions of possible life forms in the universe, we happen to have the exact kind of spaceship the evil aliens have?  Holy coincidences Batman! It is also lucky that all Marines are skilled in flying spaceships or else we'd have no one to fly the thing.  And let's forget all about the scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying extraterrestrial beings and equipment and stick Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum on the ship, because fuck it, it'll be funnier.

With all its mistakes, the movie is a fun one to watch. Most years we watched the 'quick' version because my mom would fast forward to the explosion scenes because "talking is boring".  I will give this an 8/10 and now return to my beer and watermelon because today is our Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Today's film is In the Heat of the Night, which features Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, a detective trying to solve a murder in a town full of racism.

In a town in Mississippi where no one is ever murdered, someone is murdered.  The police have no idea what do, and as the film progresses, randomly arrest people based on speculation. Virgil is quietly minding his own business waiting for the train when he is grabbed and arrested without being questioned.  Soon the police learn that not only is he innocent, but he is a police officer in Philadelphia.  Bonus: He's the best homicide detective in Philadelphia.  So the prideful police chief begrudgingly asks him for help.  Virgil doesn't want to, but his boss tells him to.

The police chief, Gillespie, asks him his name, and when he replies, "Virgil", he laughs. But he doesn't understand how important he will be to the investigation. None of the police have ever been through the hell of a homicide investigation, and as an experienced detective with forensic knowledge, Virgil is the perfect guide.

I did enjoy watching the early forensics.  He was good about looking at the victim's hands and his head injury. He proved the innocence of another man they arrested because of this.  However, he goes to the victim's car and sees the bloodshed.  He wipes his bare hand all over it!  ewwwwwww.

Why are the talking portions so quiet while the guy running through the leaves is so blaring?

I was wrong about all those people smoking in the '40s movies.  Smoking is not the worst habit. Smacking gum with your mouth open is! Gillespie is a nasty gum smacker. That is so nasty.  In every scene I see him, he is smacking his gum with his mouth wide open.The funniest was when the camera zoomed in on his face, smacking away in tune to the music!

Most of the film deals with the main character's prejudices.  The police and other residents of the town are mostly racists, while Virgil is a classic example of a Northerner's superiority complex.  Gillespie and Virgil slowly start to lose their prejudices, but never fully let go because they are prideful.  Both of them were good actors, and I particularly liked his death stares. Also, dude slapped a guy. I will give this film an 8/10.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Today's film is Night of the Living Dead, a landmark film that started the zombie craze.  Without this we wouldn't have Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil, that Walking Dead show, or many others.

Our main characters are holed up in a farmhouse, trying to survive the zombie attacks.  But they weren't even called zombies back then.  They were called 'ghouls'.  No one knew what they were or what they were capable of.  We learn most of what is happening from the TV and radio.  Apparently the recently dead's brains are reactivated by passing satellite from Venus or some other cock-eyed sci fi excuse.  One thing that stands out to me is the reason for 'zombie-ization' is different.  For example, in Resident Evil, it is the T-virus that reanimates cells.  Anyways the end result is always a dangerous thoughtless creature bent on eating us and spreading the infection.

The best character was Ben.  He was capable of thinking under pressure and wouldn't take shit from anyone.  Especially that coward who wanted to stay in the cellar.  He kept trying to boss Ben around, but he was having none of it.  Barbra was infuriating.  Sure, she did lose her brother, but she was reduced to an almost catatonic state.  There's a couple also hiding in the cellar who try to help out, but only succeed in blowing up the truck outside.

Then there's the little girl lying injured downstairs.  We know that if anyone is bit by a zombie, they will soon become a zombie themselves.  But people watching this for the first time wouldn't know because the ground rules for zombies had not been set yet.  This leads to a confusing point.  The girl has been bitten.  Later, she arises as a zombie to kill and eat.  Did the bite itself cause her to transform?  Or did she die from her injury and become reanimated?

The greatest part was my husband's reaction.  He walked past and asked what it was.  I told him, his eyes got huge (that is a feat for him) and ran into the bedroom to play some video game.  He kept hollering "Is it over yet?" and would not come near the living room until I said yes. I asked him why he didn't want to stay with me, and he replied "I do not like black and white movies.  They are stupid.  Every movie on that stupid list of yours is stupid."  He means the 1001 list of movies, and yes he is a master of words.  He brings me a copy of the Expendables 2 and claims it is far superior to anything on the list and anyone who thinks differently has the wrong opinion.  Never mind that he himself has not seen the movie yet.  I asked him if he was afraid of zombies, and of course he denied it.  So I asked why he always refuses to play Resident Evil with me, and he replies that he hates shooter games.  This is my reaction the entire time he is ranting:

Also, the dark ending was great yet expected.  It's a zombie apocalypse, it can't end happy!  I can imagine this must have been terrifying back when it first came out, long before our zombie obsessed culture arose. (Lol, arose).  Anyway, I enjoyed it and I will give it an 8/10.