Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Footlight Parade (1933)

Today's film is Footlight Parade.  The first part of this film is completely forgettable.  The only reason this film might be worth seeing is for the final three numbers, in which we actually get to see the musical prologues.  However, to me they didn't work.  In the "Waterfalls" number, how did fit an entire waterfall into a theater??  Then they had an entire pool!  In the last number,  the actors held a sign above their heads, which, if looked above, showed a picture of the flag and then the president.  This is for a movie theater audience, right?  How are they supposed to see that?  It wasn't worth it to me to watch this film, and I have no reason or desire to ever watch it again.  I will give it a 4/10.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

Today's film is Good Bye Lenin!  A long time ago, Germany was split into two different countries: East Germany and West Germany.  East Germany was communist while West Germany was not.  In this film, Alex lives with his family in East Germany.  His dad runs off to the West, and his mother breaks down.  We learn throughout the film that Alex's mother really cannot take any kind of shock.

Eventually, his mom leaves the hospital and returns to take care of Alex and his older sister.  Fast forward several years later, and people are protesting the regime more and more.  Alex's mom witnesses him being arrested during a protest, and collapses due to a heart attack.  She stays in a coma for 8 months.  During this time, Alex forms a relationship with a cute nurse, while the two sides of Germany reunite.  Mom finally wakes up, but the doctors say she cannot take any kind of shock or it may kill her.  Alex wants to bring her home.

The problem is that Mom loved her country, and was very active in the communist community.  If she learned that everything she believed in and worked for is gone,  she would be shocked to death.  So, Alex goes out of his way to pretend like everything is the same.  This gets harder and harder as Western capitalism, think: Coca Cola, invades their precious country.  Alex's friend helps him make fake news reports to "explain away" all this Western influence.

As time goes on, we learn that not only is Alex preserving the old country for his mom, but perhaps he is doing it to instill a sense of nostalgia, like he's remembering the good old days of when his family was all together.  But, perhaps his mom has some secrets of his own.  Alex's girlfriend and sister think he is taking it too far with all this pretending.  But, I see it the same way we tell our children about fairy tales.  It's making a perfect pretend world where everything is safe and nothing has changed.  His mom doesn't have very long time to live, so he's making her last few months comfortable.  He wanted her to die happy.  If she would have lived for several more years, then he would have had to explain that their country had reunited and that communism had failed.  However, he does find his dad because she wanted to see him one last time.  After she died, they put her ashes in a firework and shot it into the sky.

This film shows how an adult child will go out of their way to make sure their parent is safe and happy in their final moments.  Even though we may not understand or agree with how they do it, we know that his mom died where she was happy.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Queen Christina (1933)

Today's film is Queen Christina.  We really liked it.  It's not entirely  historically accurate, but it is a good story and is romantic.

Christina's father was the King of Sweden, who was caught up in the constant warring of the day.  He died when she was 6, and she was crowned as an adorable little Queen.  She was given the best education possible, and constantly read to learn more and more.  In real life, she was told to back off studying for a bit because she was wearing herself out.

She grew up to her 20s as a tough, tomboyish queen, always dressing as a man when she went out riding or hunting.  At this age, she was expected to marry, but she wasn't ready for it yet.  Every one wanted her to marry her cousin, Karl, but she was like, yeah no.  Another problem is Magnus, who is in love with her and is a jealous person.

While she was out riding, she comes across the visiting Spanish envoy, whose carriage is stuck in the snow.  She laughs, which is interesting because I thought the tagline for Ninotchka was "Garbo Laughs".  She laughs in this too, apparently, and this movie came first.  Those Spanish people.  Always getting stuck in snow.  She later meets him in a tavern, and with him still believing she's a boy, hangs out for awhile.
How can Antonio believe Christina is a boy if she's obviously wearing lipstick?  Well, she's not.  This is what I think is called, "suspending your disbelief".  Christina lived a long time ago and was a tomboy, so she wouldn't have worn lipstick.  Greta Garbo is wearing lipstick as an actress.  So, Antonio can't see it, but we can.

So, convienently, the only room left is her room, so they have to share.
He asks her, "Aren't you going to get undressed?"  It's in that second that she realizes she has never undressed herself before and isn't sure what to do.  As a queen, she has always had her servant dress/undress her.  So she clumsily fumbles around her clothes and they clatter to the floor.  Finally, Antonio realizes she is a woman.  So they get it on for five days.  As the snow clears, she leaves but promises him that she will see him again.

When Antonio arrives at the castle, he discovers that Christina is the Queen.  Of course Magnus is like totally jealous and turns the peasants to riot against her.  Christina's like "fuck this I'm out" and leaves the throne to travel to Spain with Antonio.  However, Magnus kills him before they leave.  So it's a sad ending, but hopefully Christina will have a better future.  This movie was enjoyable and great.  I will give it a 9/10.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

The New 1001 List of Films

Here are my thoughts about the new 1001 films you must See Before You Die list for 2014.  So far all the editors did was remove a bunch of recent films and add a bunch of different ones.  This decade isn't over yet and there may be a really great film coming out that we don't know of yet.  I know that the editors put out a new book every year to sell, but I think that changing a "definitive list" every year is not a good idea.  How can they call it a "definitive list" of films if it is going to change every single year? 
My idea is to put out a new list at the start of every new decade.  That way we have time to watch new films and learn and then we will know what are the best films.  None of this changing recent films back and forth.  Also, there are some older films that are still on there that are terrible.  Just because they are old does not mean they are good.  I think instead of constantly adding films, they need to whittle the list down a bit to make it a truly great list.  Less is more.  After all, this is the 1001 list, not the 1001 films plus some others I like.   The number is getting too high.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Awful Truth (1937)

Hi, I'm back from the hospital with what should hopefully be one of my last surgeries.  I've been relaxing at home for a while now.  However, one of my stitches popped and now I know what death feels like. One the plus side, I taught Azalea how to say "nipple" which is hilarious, because she keeps poking her dad in the chest and saying it, which irritates him to no end.

Today's film is The Awful Truth, a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant.  You already know my opinion on Cary Grant, which is not much.  So let's talk about the film.

Grant plays Jerry, who is married to Lucy, played by Irene Dunn.  After an argument, they decide to divorce.  However, they try to sabotage each other's new relationships and then realize that they do want to stay married after all.  The best way to a happy marriage is to find someone as weird as you are.

I understand that Jerry wants to get back with his ex, but he does it all wrong.  He keeps going to her apartment on the pretense of seeing his dog, who by the way is the same dog from The Thin Man,  but we all know he's going to see her.  If I were divorced, the first thing I would do is change the locks.  And he's there at all hours! Without knocking, just appears out of nowhere because he's "making a drink".  Then when the country boy is flirting with Lucy, he hides behind the door and tickles her to distract her.  Think about that for a minute and realize that that's actually pretty creepy.  He's there all the time.  Lucy never knows when he'll appear again.  Behind a door?  In her room?  Fixing himself a drink?  He could be hiding in the closet right now, watching her through the slats in the door.  

Let's talk about Irene Dunn.  It didn't feel to me like she was acting.  It just felt like she was imitating Katherine Hepburn.  Anyone can do an impression of someone (good or bad).  But, her performance didn't seem genuine.  She could have been legitimately funny if she was just being herself.  But, she was imitating Hepburn's tone, inflection, laugh, poise, everything.  I like Katharine Hepburn, but if I wanted to see her, then I want to see her, not someone imitating her.

Anyway, they get remarried as expected.  This is like the third movie I've seen where Cary Grant's character is divorced and trying to win his wife back.  How many times can they redo this story?  I'm giving this a solid 5/10.