Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Lion King (1994)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunshine Award! :D

What's this?

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

But there are rules!

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

1. Most shameful movie confession?

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

2. Favorite animal?

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

3. Favorite non-alcoholic drink?

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

4. Favorite music?

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

5. Favorite TV-show?

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

6. Favorite movie-going memory?

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

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

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

7. Movie most people love that I dislike?

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

8.  Favorite short film?

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

9. My passion?

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

10. Favorite soundtrack?

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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Vacation

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Haunting (1963)

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Today's film is Ace in the Hole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre) 1979

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coraline (2009)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stand By Me (1986)

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Unknown (1927)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008)

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Thin Man (1934)

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

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

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

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

Because this:

Also this:

And some of this:

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

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