Sunday, December 27, 2015

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (M. Hulot's Holiday) (1953)

Today's film is M. Hulot's Holiday.  It is a good, simple film.

So it takes place during vacation season when the whole country flocks to the seaside for relaxation.  A lot of the scenes, especially in the beginning, reminded me of the movie Airplane.  Most of the gags are visual in nature.  There is barely any talking at all.  In fact, there's not really a story or plot, it's just a bunch of people, including M. Hulot who are taking a vacation.

Most of the humor comes from M. Hulot's carelessness or lack of thought.  He leaves the door open while getting his luggage, and this causes the whole lobby to be windy.  Or, he doesn't put up the brakes while changing his tire, so his car rolls down the hill.

Other than that, a lot of the people are still mentally at work and can't relax on vacation.  We see that even worse today.  Work is work, vacation is vacation.  In this way this film will always be relevant.
I will give it an 8/10.

Must be nice to live in a time where no one would
associate your hair with Princess Leia.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Die Hard (1988)

Today's film is Die Hard, which is an excellent Christmas film.  There are some who would argue that this is not a Christmas film, and they are wrong.

John McClane is a New York City cop.  His wife left town and moved to LA to work at Nakatomi plaza.  This causes a rift between them because its hard being across the country and maybe his wife didn't consider his feelings on the matter.  What's worse is when he visits her office, he discovers that she is now using her maiden name.  What is up with that?

So, the office Christmas party gets overtaken by a German terrorist group.  But we learn that the whole terrorism thing is just a distraction so they can steal a ton of money from the vault.  In fact, they are counting on the feds cutting the power so they can open the vault more easily. Actually, that wouldn't work in real life.  Something as important as a vault would be on its own power supply and would still function even if the entire grid was shut off.

I think this movie would be a lot different if it were made today.  The book it was based on was written in the 1960s and the film came out in 1988.  But, today we have terrorist attacks all over the place.  My workplace put in several new policies right after the most recent attack in California.  Also, news reports love to focus on terror attacks and we have instant access to everything.  John McClane could have live-tweeted his whole experience. #Nakatomi #terroristsarebad

McClane does use what little technology he has to contact the police.  Other than that, he just uses his smarts and badassdom to defeat the majority of the terrorists singlehandedly.  There are no twists and turns, no strange plot devices, the whole film is straight up action.  The whole film.  Fun fact: The Nakatomi building is actually the 20th century Fox building.  This is a very exciting Christmas film.  I will give it an 8/10.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hanyo (The Housemaid) (1960)

Today’s film is Hanyo, The Housemaid.  It is a very interesting example of early Korean horror as well as a moralistic lesson.
The film opens and closes with a husband and wife discussing a newspaper article about an affair between a married man and the family housemaid.  The film is an imagining of such an event and how it can destroy the entire family.
The husband, Mr. Kim, works as a piano teacher in a factory full of young female workers.  Since he is one of the few males they ever see, several of them are going to like him.  It’s just nature.  A worker makes her friend pen him a love letter, but she gets suspended and later kills herself in shame.  In response, the worker goes to his house to take piano lessons, but she has a plan.
Mr and Mrs. Kim both want a housekeeper.  They just purchased a larger new house and Mrs. Kim is about to give birth soon.  The worker suggests a woman who seems unbalanced and they hire her as their housekeeper.
The whole movie ends up being like Fatal Attraction if the crazy lady lived in their house full time.  The housemaid takes advantage of Mr. Kim and becomes pregnant.  She uses her condition to manipulate him until Mrs. Kim convinces her to abort it by “falling” down the stairs.  In retaliation, she also kills their older son the same way.  It is a common trope in both Korean and Japanese horror for victims to die by falling or being pushed down stairs.  It is interesting to see it exists as early as a film from the 1960’s.

Nobody expects the housemaid to be as  cunning and manipulative as she is.  She becomes convinced she must kill herself and she wants to bring down the husband with her.  Neither Mr nor Mrs. Kim ever call the police for anything she’s done and essentially let her get away with everything.

Then at the end, the husband and wife, who were discussing the news, turn to us and explain that this could happen to anyone.  Yeah we know we literraly just got done watching it.  We don’t really need the school lesson at the end.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 400 Blows (Les quatres cents coups) (1959)

Today’s film is Les quatres cents coups (The 400 Blows).  The title actually comes from a French saying meaning “to raise hell” so it doesn’t really have anything to do with “blows”.  The film feels very modern and relevant, and I think a lot of people can relate to it.
Even though this film was set in current times, for us it’s the past and provides us a unique window to see what everyday life was like.  I don’t know what school was like in the 18thcentury, but I know what it was like in the 1950s because I am watching it right now.   It is amazing how it is exactly like school in the 1990s.  Except for now, in our modern age, playing hooky feels a little different.

One of the students is Doinel, who is not a villain, but always seen as a troublemaker by his harsh teacher and his parents.   He has trouble paying attention.  He might have ADD or he might not be challenged enough and is bored.  I have Autism and was always at odds with school personnel.  Then when someone explained my condition, they automatically feel sorry for me.  School can be overwhelming and boring at the same time.  But people like us are always dismissed as troublemakers.
Then comes Doinel’s mom, who is the source of all his problems.  He knows that she never even wanted him to begin with, and he can thank his grandmother for convincing her to keep him.  That must weigh heavily on him.  He catches her with another man, but cannot tell his stepfather because it would reveal that he was skipping school that day. 

Wanting to tell your dad that your mom is cheating on him, but it
would reveal you were playing hooky.

Later, he is caught trying to return a stolen typewriter and sent to juvie.  He sees the ocean and makes a break for it.  As he runs toward the freedom of the beach, the film freezes over his face.  But his story is far from over.  Just you wait, Doinel.  Soon you will have kids of your own and your mom will reappear out of nowhere.  Nowhere!! Because she wants to "play Grandma" and she will have the audacity to tell you how to raise your children even though she knows fuckall about children in general.  Man, this movie is so realistic that it's painful.  I give it a 10/10 this movie excels on all levels.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Today's film is Carnival of Souls.  It used local actors and a tiny budget, and has a quaint charm.

It focuses on Mary, who is in a car that is drag racing. The car drives off the bridge and crashes into the water.  The cops drag the water but find nothing.  Later, Mary emerges from the water unharmed with no memory of what happened.  She then moves to to new town and finds work as a church organist. No matter  where she goes, she encounters a creepy man with a white face and black eye area. He appears out of nowhere to her.  She even sees a doctor, who believes these apparitions are a result of survivor's guilt.  Throughout the film, she is time and time again drawn to a mysterious building.

We find that the building was once a carnival, and now houses the souls of drowning victims.  Through this, we can easily predict the ending, that Mary actually did die in the water after the crash.  I think the whole thing was a dream right before she died.  Like she was sort of aware she was dead but not fully.  I remember having to read An Incident at Owl Creek in high school and it focused on this same issue.

Even thought the movie was very predictable and not very well acted, it had a genuine creep factor so I will give it a 5/10.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

On the Town (1949)

Today we are watching a fun movie, On the Town.  It follows three sailors making the most of their 24 hour shore leave in New York City.

They soon get burnt out from sightseeing and decide to go find some ladies.  Two of them have no problem finding lady companions, but not the last one,Gabey.  He falls in love with a "Miss Turnstiles" after seeing her picture on a poster.  So he has to have her.  Man there is like 5 million women in New York City,  you can't be that picky.  What does he even have to offer her?

One thing I really liked was the female characters, Brunhilde the cabby and Claire the scientist.  They are not shy and demure, they are just as flirtatious as the men. They provide much of the humor in the film.  Brunhilde also tries to find a match for her roommate,  who unfortunately looks like Cinderella's evil stepsister.  After an accident involving a dinosaur skeleton,  now the cops are looking for them too!  It's about to get wacky in here! 

Eventually Gabey does meet up with Miss Turnstiles, who wants nothing to do with him until they both find out they are from the same bumfuck nowhere town.  Gabey and his friends catch up to her at her dance number, which involves them wearing dance clothes too.  Men wearing women's clothes is always funny.  The cops catch up to them, and they are put back on their ship.  But we notice that it's morning again, and we see more sailors pouring out, ready to experience the city that never sleeps. And tomorrow it will begin anew again.  I thought this movie was funny.  I will give it a 7/10.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) (1955)

Today's film is Pather Panchali.  It is part of a series, so don't expect any closure at the end.

So here we have a family living in India, and they are barely getting by.  The father is a writer, poet, and priest, who is artistic but doesn't have much money sense.  He even gave away his family's orchard to settle his brother's debts.  Did he know exactly how much his brother owed vs. how much the orchard was worth?  Was there anything on paper proving this?  No probably not.

To get by and put food on the table for her two children, the mother, Sarbojaya, sells what little possessions she has, including her wedding dishes.  The struggle is real.  Interestingly, this film was made on a tiny budget, and the director and his wife pawned their possessions to help fund it.

Her daughter, Durga, often steals from the orchard, but it did used to be her orchard, so I don't think she knows what she is doing is wrong.  Eventually, her kleptomania evolves to steal non-food items as well.  What's worse is that her family defended her the entire time and she actually did steal the jewelry.  There's like a total of ten people in her village, where was she planning on wearing it?

Durga has a little brother named Apu, who is sent to school, but it's not a very good school from the looks of it.    Most of the film centers around the two.  Even though they don't have much, they share simple joys every day.  Durga is a great example of a big sister, being a leader, motherly, but sometimes teasing too.  Got to keep the younger siblings in line.

Their dad decides to leave town to find work, and it takes a toll on the family, especially his wife.  After playing in the rain, Durga catches a cold, which develops into a high fever and she passes away.  Soon after, her dad returns home with gifts, but no one cares because Durga is gone.  The family decides to leave their ancestral home to find a new life elsewhere.

It is refreshing to see an Indian film without a ton of singing.  Also, the whole life in poverty theme is pretty universal.  I will give it a 7/10.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Today's film is Letter from an Unknown Woman.  I did not find this movie romantic; I think this movie is very creepy!

This woman is a stalker! If you gender-reversed everyone in this film, there would be no doubt about it.  But people forgive her because she's a woman.  So it starts off with Stefan the musician getting ready to flee to avoid a duel.  Just then, he receives a letter and begins to read it.  So now we hear the woman's tale through flashbacks.

So the whole movie is her stalking this guy, Stefan. She becomes obsessed with him after listening to him play piano through her walls. She does encounter him in person a few times, but each time he doesn't remember her.  But this does not deter her at all.

Meanwhile, while living with her mom and stepdad, a handsome young soldier starts to date her.  However, she is just stringing him along and rejects his proposal.  She flees back to Stefan's town and gets a job there to be near him.  She does manage to get him into bed at one point.  Then, she does the unimaginable.  Their encounter does result in a baby, but she refuses to name the father.  She never tells Stefan about their son for nine full years.  Not allowing a parent to see or get to know their child is just as bad as a parent abandoning their child.  She is doing a disservice not only to Stefan, but to her son as well.  She has no right to keep her child away from his own father.  What a disgusting individual.

So, now she's a single parent with a young child, and what does she do?   That's right, she marries the handsome soldier who proposed to her years ago.  Way to be a stalker's sloppy seconds, soldier boy.

Then, through no fault of their own, the stalker and her son are exposed to the Typhus bacteria.  As they lay dying in a hospital, she pens the letter expressing her story to Stefan.  She and her son die before Stefan can see or visit either of them.  Stefan decides not to flee his duel, and it turns out his challenger is the stalker's husband.  Very interesting.

This movie disturbed me on so many different levels.  Excellent.  I will give it an 8/10.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Zemlya (Earth) (1930)

The last film of the month is Zemlya.  This was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.  

The poor farmers are tired of having nothing while the rich farmers have everything, including fancy tractors.  It starts off with a grandfather dying, and we know this because he actually says I'm dying.  The young Vasyl talks of the greatness of collectivism, everyone working and sharing together.

They get a tractor to share amongst the farmers, but the radiator dries up and they pee in it???  Then it's ok because I guess ammonia is good for tractors and they carry on.   Vasyl is happy and dancing, but then a bad guy kills him!!       D:

Vasyl's dad is upset at his death and asks everyone to sing songs of new life and beginnings, instead of hymns.  Everyone turns away from the church and goes towards atheism.  Which made sense because priests had a lot of power and the churches are ornate while the people live in poverty.  Everyone gathers to remember Vasyl while the rain nourishes the plants.  

There is some opposition to the idea of collectivism, but they are largely ignored by the rest of the people.  The film is a positive ideal of what communism could possibly be, but never became.  I will give it a 6/10.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Andrei Rublev (1966)

Today's film is Andrei Rublev,  which is about a guy who lived a really long, long time ago in Russia.  We remember him as a an artist who painted icons, or religious artwork.

The film is very long, but it is broken up into chapters that detail different random parts of his life.  Like him being hired to paint icons. He is excited about that.  Then, there is widespread famine. He is not excited about that.  Seems like Russia is always going through some famine in these films.

 A huge portion of the film has nothing to do with Andrei at all. Instead, it's about another man making a huge copper bell.  It shows in great detail how everyone worked together to create it. If only they put that much effort into growing food.  Our friend Andrei is standing round watching them make the bell just like we are.

Overall, the film was pretty good and tells a lot about life back then. I will give it a 8/10.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dersu Uzala (1975)

Today's film is Dersu Uzala.  It is fairly predictable but still a nice film.

It reminded me of Tarzan or George of the Jungle or any other film where someone used to living outdoors in the wild is forced to live in the city.  But the film is based around an actual soldier's journal so we know that this is somewhat true.

So a long time ago, over 100 years ago, a group of soldiers were sent by the Russian government to explore the wild lands of Siberia.  They run into a random dude living out there.  His name is Dersu Uzala and he is a member of the golden people.  He had a family with him, but they all died from smallpox decades ago.

Dersu and the soldier Arsenev become friends, and Arsenev relies on wisdom many times.  Sometimes it even saves his life.  He invites him to come with him, but Dersu wants to stay in the wild where he is comfortable and happy.

Years later, Arsenev comes back with a bigger group. He is happy to see Dersu again!  However, a tiger stalks their camp and Dersu shoots it.  It only wounds the animal so he is now afraid he is cursed.  Soon, his eyesight becomes too poor to focus on the animals to shoot.  Arsenev insists that he come with him because a hunter isn't so good when he can't see.

Why didn't he just go and buy Dersu some glasses?  Well, I mean, he's old so he might have a condition like macular degeneration or hardening of the lenses that glasses won't help.  Or, his problem might be psychological.  He is so upset at wounding the tiger that he can't focus on any targets.  We don't know.

Obviously after watching other films like this, we can see how this is going.  Dersu belongs in the woods and can't cope with city life.  Even though he can't see so well, and can't hunt animals or find other ways to feed himself, he still convinces his host family he needs to go.  Arsenev gives him a really good rifle to hunt with.  Unfortunately, Dersu is killed by someone who stole his gun.  I liked this film but it was just too predictable and I couldn't expect anything.  It was directed by Akira Kurosawa so we knew it was going to be a good story.  He was actually invited by the Russian government to make a film because they didn't much access to American television and needed good filmmakers.  It was a nice change of pace from the other Russian films I've seen.  I will give it an 8/10.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes are Flying) (1957)

Today's film is The Cranes are Flying, which focuses on Russian families during World War II.  It mainly follows one woman and her family.  This is Veronika, who is in love with Boris and plans to marry him.  Boris's cousin, Mark, is also in love with Veronika and is a total creeper whenever he's around her.

Boris is smart and talented enough to avoid the draft, but he volunteers to serve his country.  Mark somehow escapes the draft, but we will learn how later.  In the scene where the soldiers are leaving for war, we see all of the families saying goodbye. There are new mothers holding tiny babies, looking very worried, as well as old grandparents who have seen war before. Most of the films like this would be propaganda about how great it is to serve, but we really see that this may be the last day any of them see their families.

Next comes the German bombings that destroy everything.  It's easy to see the Soviet Union as the faceless monster of communism, but it had real people who lived there, and millions of people died during the war.  Veronika loses her parents when their house is hit, and Boris's family invites her to stay with them.  During another air raid, Veronika hides out with Mark, and he takes advantage of the fact that no one is around and rapes her, then manages to shame her into marrying him.  We knew he was a bad guy creeper the whole time.  Afterwards, he is a terrible husband, ignoring her to play music and party.  Eventually we learn that Mark bribed someone to escape the draft and he is later kicked out of his marriage and his house.

Veronika works at a hospital as a nurse and sees many injured soldiers.  After one soldier has a breakdown because his girlfriend left him, she leaves to go outside.  She never meant to hurt Boris and she's stuck with someone else.  Meanwhile, Boris dies while trying to save another soldier, but she doesn't find out until the war is over.  At first she doesn't believe it, because he's listed as missing. She decides to wait until his friend, who volunteered with him, returns.  Unfortunately, he really is dead.  Meanwhile, she takes care of a child missing his parents, who more than likely were killed in an air raid.

When the war is over, the surviving soldiers return.  Boris's friend gives her a bouquet of flowers to show her he's sorry for her loss and tells everyone a speech about how they will never forget those who served.  Meanwhile, Veronika takes out the flowers from the bouquet and hands them out to others.  The film serves as a remembrance of all the Soviet soldiers and citizens who died in World War II.  It also shows how people grow up and change by war.  Veronika went from a goofy girl who called herself "Squirrel" to a mature nurse who takes in a child and stands up to her loser husband and kicks him out.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ivan Groznyy part two (1958)

So the first Ivan Groznyy came out in 1944 and the second part didn't come out until 1958.  That's a long time to wait for a sequel!

So there's more government problems and more stuff to worry about for Ivan in this film.  We also learn more about his past, that his mother was poisoned by the boyars.  We know this because she shouts poison really loudly.  Thanks for the exposition, Ivan's mom.

Ivan also learns that Big hat lady was responsible for poisoning his beloved wife, and vows revenge.  Big hat lady wants her son to rule as tsar.  Or, since he's a giant man child, she would do most of the actual decision making.

Ivan proves he's a pretty clever guy.  He invites Vladimir, the man-child over to watch a play and drink with him.  Vladimir tells him about certain people wanting his reign to end, so Ivan gives him his crown and lets him play pretend tsar for awhile.  While doing so, an assassin kills him, thinking that he's the real tsar.  His mom comes in joyous that Ivan has been destroyed, only to realize her own son was killed.  Ivan announces that he won't punish the assassin, for he has killed his enemy.  And that's it, it's a really short film.

Ivan does do some talk about his power being derived and strengthened by the people, but we know that was really Stalin talking.  This was less like a silent film than the first, but it still wasn't any better.  I will give it a 5/10.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ivan Groznyy (Ivan the Terrible) (1944)

When I think of Russia,  I mostly think of hilarious dashcam videos.  But Russia actually has a very rich history.  So today we are going way back in time to the Elizabethan Era to watch Ivan the Terrible.

 This film reminded me a lot of old silent films.  There was use of Shadows to create dramatic effect. Also, the actors' faces and especially their eyes were exaggerated a lot the same way silent film actors do.  Especially that guy who had a crush on I van's wife.  That guy had he best eye game of all.  So we learn from this film that Russia used to be many kingdom until Prince Ivan was crowned Tsar of all Russia, uniting the kingdoms.  This made many people unhappy.

 The worst person was the mother of all prince that we will call Big Hat Lady.  She does not like Ivan and wants her son, a giant man-child, to rule.  She really hates the queen, or tsarina, Anastasia.  The Queen supports her husband, Ivan, in everything he does. 

Most of the film is various battles, where Ivan finds new friends friends and supporters, and loses old allies.  The whole film film is peppered with silent film style overacting.  Big hat lady sees bringing down the queen is the key to the throne, so she poisons her.  Having lost the person he loves the most, and the mother of the his child, Ivan becomes more ruthless.  In real life, they had six children together.  Anastasia was the only person that could hold his cruelty in check, and now there's nothing holding him back. Ivan tortured and killed tons of people, and spread out Russia's boundaries.  It is no surprise that this film was endorsed by Stalin himself. I will give this film a 7/10. I didn't like the sudden ending. It seemed too unfinished to me.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stalker (1979)

So we are continuing Russian month with Stalker.  I have to say I was quite disappointed with this film.  I was under the impression that this was a great science fiction film and you know me, I love sci fi films.  But I felt this was more under the genre of fantasy rather than science fiction.

 So, we are not entirely sure what exactly happened, but some sort of meteor hit the earth and it created a room that grants wishes.  Or maybe it wasn't a meteor? The room just appeared?  We are not sure.  However, this is definitely qualifies as magic and fantasy than sci fi.  Sci fi is futuristic or space related and this is neither. It's more like magic.

So, the name Stalker doesn't refer to someone who creepily follows someone, it's what they call the person that leads them to the Zone (the room that grants wishes).  So it's more like a coyote than an actual stalker.  The Stalker takes two men to the Zone, each having their own reason for going.

It is interesting to note that the Zone is very green and full of color, where everywhere else in the country is muddy brown.  The part I didn't like is that the two men never ever stop talking.  This is what my dad calls "walking movies".  The whole time the characters walk towards their destination, and they may or may not make it.  The two men jabber the entire time about existentialism and other philosophical questions and try to reason them out themselves.  Seriously this film is worse than the second Matrix.  It's almost the same film really.

And then here comes the best part, they actually reach the room where the Zone is.  And they don't even go in!  I waited over two hours they had better go in or I will push them in!  If this film starred women, they would have gone in there, said nothing philosophical, got their wishes and they would have been back before their kids got dropped off by the bus after school.

This movie was a huge disappointment.  Magical wish granting rooms is not in any way science fiction.  Also reading one philosopher's book in high school does not make you a genius so shut up no one wants to hear you whining about your existential crisis.  I will give this film a 4/10.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dr. Zhivago (1965)

This month we are focusing on films from Russia and the post-Soviet counties.  We start this month with Dr. Zhivago.  It has sort of the same plot structure of The English Patient, wherein a love affair during time of war is told through flashback, but there is more excitement in this film.

This movie actually spans quite a but of history.  Of course the flashback starts in the late 1930's, when Stalin already had power, so we get to hear how everything happened.  It begins with Yuri Zhivago's childhood as he moves to turn of the century Moscow.  Then he becomes a doctor and experiences life in first class Russia.  He has a crush on Lara who likes Pasha.

Pasha is involved in peaceful demonstrations against the government.  The country is sharply divided between rich and poor, and they desire equality for everyone.  Which sounds good in theory, the Russians just execute it very terribly.  Pasha's ideas and demure nature change when he is violently attacked by riot police/soldiers during a peaceful demonstration.

Lara marries Pasha.  Even though Yuri is still in love, he settles for Tonya.  During WWI, Lara and Yuri work together and he stays faithful.  During and after the war, the country starts falling apart, and they begin to run out of food and supplies.  Then, the Communists manage to kill the royal family and overthrow the government.  Now everyone can starve equally.

Yuri's family house has been confiscated by the government, so they stay in the cottage. When Tonya becomes pregnant with her second child, Yuri encounters Lara again and this time and this time he does sleep with her.  It is amazing that even when the country is going down the drain and everyone is starving to death, that men will still find time to cheat on their wives.

Yuri acts like everything is normal with his wife.  He rides back through the woods to get to Lara in town, and is kidnapped by  the evil Strelnikov's forces.  They force him to work as a doctor on the front lines.  Oh guess what? Strelnikov is actually Pasha for reals!!  He hasn't even been to see Lara or their daughter, Katya.

The government closes in on Lara and Yuri, for his non-regime-friendly poetry, and her being the wife of a really dangerous person.  However, they refuse all offers of help.  Man you people need to swallow your pride and get the hell out of this country before you get yourselves killed.  Meanwhile, Yuri's family, remember the wife and babies he left behind to shack up with the blonde? Yeah she was smart enough to leave for Paris like six months earlier.  Unfortunately, Yuri will never be able to see them again.

The story of them ends sadly.  Yuri dies of a heart attack in the street, and Lara dies somewhere in one of Stalin's labor camps.  They have a daughter but we don't know what became of her.  The story of their love is told by Yuri's brother, who is sure he has found her.  But without DNA evidence, there is really no way of knowing.  In the end, he sees her carry s balalaika, just like Yuri's mother had.  Did she inherit her musical talent from her? She really could be his daughter!

Overall, yes the movie was long, but it covered a significant part of Russian history.  And yes, it did focus more on romance. If you want to more of the Revolution, read a freakin history book.  I will give this film a 9/10.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pumpkinhead (1988)

Happy Halloween!  Today's film is Pumpkinhead.

Way deep in the country,  there is a place where a freaky alien-looking demon thing will chase after anything you want it to.  Everyone knows about it and is terrified of it.  

A man named Ed Harley lives with his young son (his only child) that he loves very much.  He works at the only grocery store for miles.  One day, a group of teenagers go up to the country to go dirtbiking.  Ed has to leave the store to get something from home, and just leaves his child alone in the store.  I have a five year old and I don't leave her alone for five minutes.  Especially if there's a group of strangers right outside.

So, the boy doesn't stay inside like he was told to, big surprise, and gets hit by one of the dirtbikes.  Not accepting that it was an accident, Ed wants to wreak revenge on the teenagers.  With the help of a country witch, he summons the demon Pumpkinhead to kill them all.

One thing I noticed is that all the country people are dirty.  Their faces are dirty, and it seems that no one owns a washing machine in the area.  My inlaws live out in the country, and they will go from the pecan orchard straight into the house to cook and eat, and they don't once wash their hands.  They are so gross.  Most country people are not like this honestly.  Most farmhouses are impeccably clean, and they are a source of pride for most people.

Ed regrets unleashing the demon, but it is too late to stop him.  He learns the hard way there is only one way to stop the demon.  I found this movie a lot more sadder than I found it scary.  I will give it a 5/10.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World is one of the most fun movies I have ever seen.  It has dinosaurs and Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle.  Really what more do you need from a movie?

I may be a bit biased because this is part of the Jurassic Park series.  My dad took me to the premier of Jurassic Park when I was eight years old.  Since then, I have watched the sequels and been to the Jurassic Park land at Universal Studios.  My dad also got me all of the books.  Now, my daughter is five years old and she gets to watch a new Jurassic Park movie with me.  This is so great.

So if you don't like dinosaurs this movie is not for you. But what about the first three movies?  We have learned that dinosaurs are very dangerous and will kill people.  But now we are sophisticated enough to stick them in a Seaworld type environment where the dinosaurs are more secure.  Since I work for a large entertainment company, I am very familiar with how theme parks work behind the scenes.  A lot of it is exaggerated and is way more high tech than real life, but that's to make it look cool.  In reality our computers are so old!  And they hardly ever get updated, and the wifi is spotty if it ever works at all.  But we do have a kickass monorail though.

Living in Florida I have the opportunity to visit Citywalk often.  It is a lot of fun, and if you've never been there, it's like a street full of shops and restaurants right before you enter Universal Studios.  It doesn't require a ticket to enter, so it's cheap fun.  The reason I tell you this is because the main street in Jurassic World is identical to Citywalk.  I almost thought they filmed it there, but it turns out they rebuilt a set to look like it.  So Jurassic Park isn't real, but hey Citywalk is.

My favorite part was the cameo of Jimmy Buffett as he runs away from the pterodactyls while carry his margaritas.  

Since we have learned from past experience that dinosaurs are dangerous, there's no more threat from them.  There's even a petting zoo at the park.  But you know us Americans!  We love Danger! Yeah, explosions fire awesome.  Why do you think people watch NASCAR?  It's for the crashes that's why.  So a corporation (of course) sponsors a new breed of dinosaur, specifically created in a lab to be the scariest dinosaur ever.  Not surprising to anyone in the audience, it escapes and destroys everything in its path.  The dinosaur was created by bits and pieces of living animals, so it has many helpful advantages in the wild, such as temperature control and camouflage.  Oh, they also manage a whole subplot about using raptors as weapons for the military so we now got both evil corporate greed mixed with evil government greed.

Here's my theory, which isn't in the movie at all.  Owen realizes that the scary dinosaur, named Indominus Rex, is part raptor which explains her hunting prowess.  She killed all the brontosauruses in the field for fun.  A raptor would have killed and eaten them.  A raptor's goal is to swarm an animal like a pack of wolves and devour it.  But think about this.  She figured out how to escape.  She enjoys solving puzzles and quickly finds answers to problems. She's far smarter than any other dinosaur and uses every adaptation she has to her advantage.  I believe she has human DNA in her.  This explains both her incredible intelligence as well as her viciousness.  I hope they will explore this further in the next movie.

This movie is fun and everything you can expect from a movie about killer dinosaurs.  I will give it a 9/10.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The English Patient (1996)

Today's movie is The English Patient, winner of the 1996 best picture award at the Academy Awards.  But come on, we all know what the greatest movie of 1996 is.  Come on and slam and welcome to the jam.

This film is pretty good, it's just way too long.  And there are way too many subplots.  At the heart of it all, it's just a classic story of a wife cheating on her lovely husband with a much hotter guy.

So, we first find the English Patient as he is being carried away from a burning plane.  He's actually Hungarian but that's not important right now.  What's interesting is that we expect him to be some kind of hero, but he's not.  He's a normal person, and even has some bad traits.

The English Patient's real name is Count Almasy, and his nurse is Hana.  I did not even recognize her until she cut her hair!  She is the same lady from Chocolat.  I love that movie.  She doesn't want to transport him any longer, and knows he only has days to live.  So, she moves into an abandoned building with him like a makeshift hospice.  But she didn't check for bombs or booby traps!  Luckily a crew comes in later to handle that.

Through flashbacks, we learn of Count Almasy's story, and it is pretty sad.  Meanwhile, a romance blossoms between Nurse Hana and a handsome bomb removal guy.  The whole movie, from the beginning of Count's romance to his death, covers the entirety of WWII.  So we see a bit a history in a specific place.  I didn't like Count and Katherine's romance, I thought they were overly rich selfish people.  But Hana and the bomb removal guy's romance was more genuine.

The movie was overall okay, but it ended up with too many plotlines and dragged on because of that fact.  I will give it a 6/10.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Annie Hall (1977)

I have now watched this film four times because I feel like I have to write about every film on the list.  I can't think of anything positive to say.  All of the characters were unlikable. I don't understand any of the humor involved.  Maybe some of it was meant to be sarcastic, but people like me can't detect sarcasm so it gets really frustrating.  I am so frustrated with watching this film. I think it was meant to be a comedy but I am not 100% sure. I definitely have no reason to watch it again. I will give it a 5/10.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hausu (1977)

Today’s film is Hausu (House).  It is a very strange film.  It is not

the strangest film I have ever seen.  That would probably be Naked
Lunch.  Also, Mulholland Drive was strange, but it made me angry.
This film did not make me angry.

I have heard many things about this film, but it was near impossible
to find.  But surprise! It randomly appeared on demand for one day
only, so I seized the opportunity and watched it right then.  It was
nothing like I expected, and I have seen plenty of Japanese horror
films.  But, there is so much humor in this film as well.

I believe that Evil Dead II got a lot of its inspiration from this
film.   The gross out humor, body parts, lots of blood, strange magic,
all of this are found in both films.  It starts off as a normal film
where we are expecting horror elements, then goes off on a tangent of

One of my favorite parts is where the guy doesn’t want any watermelon,
instead he wants bananas, and in the next scene we see he has turned
into bananas!   The girls in the film all go by nicknames.  Melody
loves to play piano, and she gets eaten by one while her fingers
continue to play.   Everyone is going to be killed in strange ways.
There are also elements of magic and witchcraft at play as well.  This
film was unique and very amusing.  I will give it an 8/10.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wuthering Heights (1939)

Today's film is  Wuthering Heights. It's a romantic drama about the impossibility of true love and how it tears two people apart.  It was filmed in California, and they planted thousands of heather flowers in a field so it would look like England.
 The story is about Cathy, who grew up in a huge house named Wuthering Heights.  Her father brings home an abandoned gypsy boy named Heathcliff to live with them.  Cathy's brother wastes no time telling him what he thinks of him, and they will never be equals.  When their father dies, he won't even allow him to mourn with the rest of the family and turns him out to be a stableboy.
It may have been filmed in California,  but it is a very British film.  it focuses on themes of class and love.  Cathy has loved Heathcliff her whole life, but eventually rejects him because he's "beneath" her.  Money and stability are more important than love, so she marries a rich neighbor.  Heathcliff leaves for America and comes back a rich man.  First thing he does is buy Wuthering Heights!  He lets his "brother" live there with him, who can't afford to stay anywhere else now that he's wasted all the time.

Heathcliff may be back, but Cathy's not going to leave her husband for an old flame.  Heathcliff still loves her, and starts dating her sister in law in order to get close to her.  He ends up marrying her sister in law. But he will never love her the same way that he loves Cathy.   Then, Cathy gets sick and dies.  The movie ends with Heathcliff, who is still married by the way, walking outside of Wuthering Heights with the ghost of Cathy.  So I guess they kind of ended up toghter.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Today is the first day of October! I celebrated by eating the first pumpkin muffin of the season. Today we are watching Hotel Transylvania, which until the constant ads for Hotel Transylvania 2, I honestly didn't know existed. But we need to watch the first one in order to appreciate the second.

This film is very family friendly. It is especially good if you have already seen any classic horror films with your children. The monsters are all voiced by top billing comedians such as Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Molly Shannon and many others. There are so many stars in this film. The monsters are Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Werewolf man, and The Mummy. There are many others in bit parts that add to the fun.

Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) builds a hotel as a monster's safe haven from scary humans. He does this by request of his late wife in order to protect their daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). Fast forward to her 118th birthday (which is 18 in monster years apparently) and Mavis is itching to see the world beyond the hotel. Dracula goes to great lengths to prevent this, until a human stumbles onto the hotel.

Obviously it's love at first sight for Mavis and the human, Johnathon, who Dracula quickly disguises as a monster.  Dracula is unable to hypnotize Johnathon into forgetting about the hotel and Mavis and leaving, because he is wearing contacts.  However, Dracula has no problem hypnotizing the airline pilots through a thick glass windshield.   Mavis is most intrigued by Johnathon's lifestyle as an adventurous backpacker, which is the polar opposite of her.  Dracula forces him to leave, but later teams up with the rest of the monsters to get him back.  

There are a lot of one-liners and lots of visual action, which is great for kids.  It may not be a princess movie, but with so much going on, they won't even care.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Candyman (1992)

Today's film is Candyman.  It is based on an urban legend.  I used to have a book of urban legends which I would stay up all night reading because I was too scared to sleep.  If you look in a mirror and say "Candyman" five times he will appear and kill you with his hook hand.  Or, you can summon Bloody Mary or the Bell Witch the same way.  Do urban legend people have nothing better to do than hang out around mirrors?

 Helen is a college student working on her thesis on urban legends. What on earth is she majoring in?  She is most interested in Candyman because he haunts the Cabrini - Green area, and may be responsible for a few deaths there.  She believes the murders were committed by gang members who are using the legend to frighten people.

She finds out the murderers came in through the wall where the medicine cabinet was. I too have a hole in the wall where a medicine cabinet should be.  It was hidden behind a photo frame when I bought the condo.  Helen also discovers that her apartment was supposed to be housing projects.  Which is hilarious because she is standing in the biggest apartment I have ever seen.

All this attenting to him summons the real Candyman,  who sets out to destroy Helen's life.  Candyman actually enjoys his urban legend status and wants her to join him.  He makes it so she doesn't really have an choice in the matter.  I like this movie because it brings ghost stories into more modern times, has no screaming teenagers and little gore, and acknowledges modern urban legends.  All ghost stories don't have to be in Victorian times.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Changeling (1980)

Today is the first day of Fall!  I am very happy about this.  For the past two months, it's been over 100° every day.  And I have to be outside a lot.  This morning, it actually got down to 84°, but then the sun came up, but there's still hope!

When it gets cold outside (maybe even all the way to 70° people)  I like to stay in and watch horror movies.  So today's film will be The Changeling.  It showcases my most favorite genre which is haunted house horror movies.  Where even the house itself can be considered a character.

It starts off with a man, John Russell (played by George C. Scott) losing his wife and daughter in a car accident.  He moves across the country to start his life anew.  He wants a house to practice his music, and he is offered a chance to rent a historical mansion.  Of course it is haunted!

 I really enjoyed how everyone is rational in this film.  The ghost isn't trying to murder everyone, and Russell and his friends are genuinely concerned with what is happening and do a lot of research. The lady who rented him the mansion, Claire, helps him with the research.  Claire was played by George C. Scott's wife, Trish van Devere.  They found out a child died so they hold a seance.  But what happens surprises everyone!  The child that was hit by a carriage was just a red herring.  The ghost was actually a small boy that we murdered by his own father.  His father found an orphan to replace him so they could get their inheritance money.  This orphan grew up to be the senator.  

After some more research, they find the child's body, or what's left of it. Russell goes to confront the senator.  How is the senator supposed to take this news? That his father, that loved him very much is a murderer?  And that's not really his father?  And that he's not even himself,  just someone else's replacement? 

When I first saw the title, changeling, I thought of fairy lore.  But the reality is more rational.  The senator is the changeling, a replacement for the murdered child.  The ghost shows the senator a vision of his murder,and he collapses.  The ghost also sets the mansion on fire, but lets Russell and Claire escape unharmed.  Now the ghost is free to leave his prison.  This is the best haunted house movie I have ever seen.  Everything was well thought out, and no one did anything extraordinarily stupid like in most horror films. I will give it a 9/10.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Girl who Played with Fire (2009)

Today's film is The Girl who Played with Fire.  It's not as interesting or mysterious as the first film.  It involves Mikael's news investigating a sex trafficking ring.  Then, three people are murdered and the police want Lisbeth. 

It ends up that the man in charge is a Russian spy who also happens to be Lisbeth's father.  Not only that, but the huge blond man who beat up two of her friends and tried to set them on fire, is her brother.  Her German brother who cannot feel pain.  So, to sum this up, she is a Swedish computer hacker with a Russian spy father and a German brother who acts as the father's muscle since he can't register pain.  Can this story get any crazier?  I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Today's film is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  This film is the original Swedish version.  I have not read the book nor do I intend to. 

I thought Noomi Rapace did an excellent job as Lisbeth.  The movie is slower paced, and the way it starts, you have no idea what to expect next.  A reporter, Mikael, is set up and will be going to jail, but a rich man hires him to search for his missing niece. Shockingly, Lisbeth, who was hired to hack against him begins helping him, maybe out of curiosity or boredom. 

They begin to officially work together on the case.  But what they uncover shocks everyone. They find a pattern of murders.  But not just murders.  Religious ritual racist Nazi murders.  Say that three times fast.  This film is very graphic, with murders, rapes, and torture/injury scenes.  I liked the pace of the movie, but some scenes were far fetched, like when Mikael is saved at the last minute.  Like of course he's not gonna die, he's one of the main characters.   I'm gonna give this film an 8/10.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

O Pagador de Promessas (The Given Word) (1962)

Today's film is O Pagador de Promessas, which translates to "a payment for promises" and has the English title The Given Word.  The film goes to show you how stubborn men can be and the trouble it can cause.

Zé lives on a farm in Brazil.  He has traveled a very long way, 7 leagues in fact, while carrying a heavy cross on his shoulder.  His wife, Rosa, accompanies him on his journey.  They get to the church of Saint Barbara, and Zé intends to leave the cross at her altar in order to fulfill his promise.

Meanwhile, a man called "Handsome" sees them lying on the steps of the church and invites Rosa to his hotel so she can avoid the rain.  However, he is creeping on her the entire time.  I see him as mainly a character to distract her from her husband and create drama.

So, in the morning it's Saint Barbara's festival.  Zé sees the priest and tells him his story about his promise.  However, he has one fatal mistake: He talks way too much!  All he had to do was tell him that he made a promise that if his favorite donkey was healed, he would carry a cross and lay it at her altar.  That's it.  But no, no, he has to run his mouth.  He didn't make the promise in a church, he made it in a house of witchcraft, or macumba (which is an old-fashioned term for early non-Christian religions, kind of how like Santeria is practiced here).  This makes the priest all kinds of angry and he refuses to let Zé into the church.  Thus, the stubbornness stand off begins.

So is Saint Barbara and Iñasã the same person?  Technically yes.  When missionaries went to other countries, they often mixed local customs to make it easier on the people.  The best example is Brigid.  She's a Celtic goddess in Ireland.  The Christians couldn't "get rid" of her, so they declared her a Catholic saint, Saint Brigid.  Is she a real person? No, she's a goddess.  In the same way, people pray to Saint Barbara and her macumba counterpart, Iñasã, mainly against fever and illness.  It is important to know that Barbara was a martyr who died for her beliefs.  So, people like Zé can't tell the difference between them, because there isn't, while a conservative priest certainly can.

Very soon, the media takes over, and starts putting words in Zé's mouth.  The whole thing turns into a media shitstorm circus, just like Dog Day Afternoon.  The only person who sees any sort of reason is Rosa.  She tells him to take the church's offer and stop letting the press get to him, and that they should leave and go home before anything gets worse.  But, Zé is super stubborn and will not take anything for an answer until he gets his cross inside.  But we already know that's not gonna happen!

So they get the cops called on them.  The bystanders in the crowd tell them to run before they are arrested or maybe shot!  Lol, Brazilian cops are just like American cops, shoot first and ask questions later.  However, he can be easily arrested for disturbing the peace, which is what he is doing.  Anyway, cops being cops, they start a massive free for all fight which results in Zé's death.  But, absolutely no one else is hurt in the slightest.  Why?  So, the crowd gathers around him and ties his body to his cross and force their way into the church.  Zé finally did keep his promise to Saint Barbara, but he died for what he believed in.  And all of this for a donkey.  What have we learned from this?  I will give this film a 7/10.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry) (1997)

Today's film is Taste of Cherry, which was filmed in Iran.  The story focuses on a suicidal man, but what is interesting is how it was made.

 The man wants to kill himself for an unspecified reason.  He wants to be buried under an unspecified certain tree, he just needs someone to throw dirt on his body, and he will pay for it.  He asks three strangers to help him.  The first one is a timid soldier who runs away.  The second one is a seminarian who lectures him on the morals of his choice.  Fjnally, he finds someone who will help him.  This person attempted suicide before and shared his story with him.

So what is unique is how this was filmed.  It was more ad-libbed than scripted. The director would actually sit in either the driver or passenger seat and start up a conversation. Then the film was edited together and it looks like the two actors are talking to each other in the car.

 It ends with the main guy lying down in his makeshift grave and the scene fades to black.  Then, all if a sudden, the filmmakers appear with all their cameras and equipment. Then they film some random soldiers rolling around in the grass.  The ending is like a punch in the face surprise, like Just Kidding! It was a movie the whole time!  I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Today's film is The Abominable Dr. Phibes.  I love movies with Vincent Price! He can make any movie entertaining.  He knows exactly when to be funny and when to be creepy or scary.  He is everything  that Tim Burton wishes his movies could be. He tries to be cute and creepy and funny at the same time, and it never works.

 There are so many questions unanswered about this movie.  Why did Dr. Phibes use the legendary Egyptian plagues as inspiration for his murder spree? Who exactly  is the beautiful  Vulnavia? She never speaks, and is always there to assist Dr. Phibes.  What is her relationship with the doctor? Did she know his wife personally?
The weirdest part was that clockwork band. Did Dr. Phibes make that? Was he a real medical doctor? I mean he had to be to know how to do blood transfusions.  He also had a degree in art, a PhD in theology, and he was a concert pianist.  Why did it take him four years before he killed anyone, and how did he keep his wife so perfectly preserved?

I like to think of this movie as an early predecessor to Se7en.  Because that guy uses the seven deadly sins to murder people, whereas Dr. Phibes uses the plagues.  However, two of the plagues were replaced with rats and bats for visual reasons. You have to give him credit for being super creative though.

And not only that, he wins.  He always stays two steps ahead of the police, and succeeds in almost everything he sets out to do. I will give this film a 7/10.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

We've been on vacation for a few days to celebrate my daughter Azalea's 5th birthday.  Before we left, we all watched A Nightmare on Elm Street together as a family.  Unfortunately this coincides with the passing on Wes Craven, so we dedicate this review to him.

 So, the plot is really simple. Teenagers fall asleep and Freddy Krueger kills them in their dreams.  As I saw in the realistic documentary The Matrix, if you die in your dram, you die in real life.  My theory about this film is about this film only and does not apply to any sequels, however many there are.

I had a hard time gleaning any information  about Freddy Krueger  from this film.  The explanation from Nancy's mom seemed really quick.  If Freddy kills children, why did he wait until everyone was in high school?

 Here is my theory.  The entire film is Nancy's  dream.  The scenes of reality or dreams are simply various levels of consciousness, including  lucid dreaming near the end.  It's really obvious  when she goes to visit  her friend in jail.  Why else would she be able to see his date at the hands of Freddy and know to go there in the middle of night? Or how did she grab his hat and bring it back to the "real world"?  That's because she didn't,  it's just a dream.  Also, she keeps escaping him but no one else can.  It's apparent that it's the work of one dreamer, not multiple  teenagers doomed to die.  That's why it's called A Nightmare on Elm Street, not Multiple Nightmares by Various People. Anyway, we all enjoyed this film (mainly for all its wonderful 80's special effects), and I will give it a 7/10.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Platoon (1986)

Today's movie is Platoon.  It takes place during the Vietnam war.  The terrain was a lot different in this war than in the first two world wars.  Instead of mountains and farmland fields, there was dense jungle brush and swampland.

The main character, Chris, dropped out of college to volunteer to fight.  He learns that most people there couldn't afford college and were drafted.  They don't value him at first because he hasn't been there long.

There are a lot of stars in this film, and they all were cast outside of their type.  Charlie Sheen plays Chris, who starts out naive and sweet, and that is not like him at all.  The helpful Sgt. Elias is played by Willem Dafoe, who normally plays villains.  Sgt. Barnes who shoots everyone including people on his own side that don't agree with him, is played by Tom Berenger, who usually plays good guys.  John C. Mcginley, who usually plays asshole characters like Dr. Cox, plays Sgt. O'Neill, who is actually a nice person.  This shows that in this film, you can't judge people because they might surprise you.

The film was based on Oliver Stone's experiences during the Vietnam War, and he mainly wrote to counteract what he saw in the Green Berets, feeling that it was false.  I never saw that film so I can't comment on that.

One thing the war does is change Chris.  He starts out hopeful and wanting to help everyone.  He receives the tiniest scratch and believes that he will die.  After seeing his fellow troops massacre innocent civilians and burn down villages, his personality toughens up.  At the end, he is shooting people while covered in blood.  He tells the others that he's fine.  How will this affect him when he goes home?  Will he go back to whatever he was studying in college or do something completely different?  War changes people, and usually not for the better.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

Today's film is The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.  It is based on true events.  This happened in the time of the Boer Wars (1899-1902) in which the colony of Australian was sent to fight in southern Africa to help her mother country, Great Britain.  Also at this time, Australia was seeking its independence from Great Britain.

The British settlers saw the aborigines (the original native people of the island) as a lower race not as evolved as they were.  They were given hardly any rights and were basically treated like dirt.  They did not even get the right to vote until 1962.

The film was hard to watch at times, and it is very hard to write about.  I want Jimmie to succeed, but cannot condone violence.  As a person of multiple ethnicities who is married to a Native person, we receive racism from literally every angle.  And it's not 1900 like this movie. It's 2015.  Remember when they try to convince his white wife to leave him and work for them? And she says no because she's married and they don't care about that?  Yeah I get that all the time.  I get hatred from my white side, hatred from my non-white side, and lots of hatred from my husband's family's side.

 It is an endless source of frustration that no matter what he accomplishes he will never be good enough because he's not white.

Jimmie didn't set out to start committing violent acts.  He was driven by intolerance and pure frustration.  But once he started he couldn't stop.  He had to be punished for what he did.

Notice how many people that he and his family encounter aren't racist and try to help him throughout the film.  Only the people in power - cops, wealthy ranchers, educated preacher's wives, are the ones who believe they are better than him and treat him as such.  Maybe that's how they got to be powerful because of their superior attitude towards others.  Look at all the republicans in charge of southerns states here.  I could go on, but there's no way Jimmie could have survived in his own environment or ours.  Nothing has changed.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sedmikrásky (Daisies) (1966)

Today's film is Daisies.  I loved this film! It was hilarious!

The film takes place in Cold War-era Czechoslovakia.  Two girls, both named Marie, decide to be bad and do generally naughty and mischievous things.  The film is overall wacky.

Most of the film, the two white girls stuff themselves with food, especially whipped cream topped desserts, and hit on older men.  I really identify with that and therefore this film speaks to me on a spiritual level.

There's so much cool stuff going on.  Camera tricks, editing tricks.  Marie cuts off other Marie's head and her disembodied head floats around laughing at her.  The colors of the scene change often.  This is like a visual, constantly moving art piece.

Another important scene is where the two Maries cut up a bunch of phallic shaped foods into pieces with their scissors.  I'm sure this is very symbolic of the feminist nature of the film.  Also, they cut out magazine pictures and eat them.

The Maries end up eating and destroying an entire banquet.  They feel bad about this, so they try to clean up, only to have the chandelier land on them!  They also question if they even exist.  How does one prove that?  This film is so artistic and so much fun.  However, it is not a long film.  That is because film production had to be halted because everyone was arrested for wasting food.  Oh, well that is communism for you.  I will give this film a 8/10.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog) (1955)

Today's film is a documentary called Night and Fog.  It shows the history and aftermath of the Holocaust.  This film manages to deliver in 30 minutes what other documentaries take 9 hours to achieve.

The film alternates between the color film of the present, and black and white film of the past.  It shows how the camps were built, and what happened in those camps.  The man providing the voiceover commentary actually was a prisoner inside one of those camps.

One interesting thing is that this documentary doesn't provide any personal sob stories.  Over 9 million people died and we can't hear all of their stories.  The film shows the gas chambers, ovens, and piles of bodies.  When the Allies came in to liberate the camps, they didn't know anyone's story.  All they saw were the piles and piles of dead bodies and that was enough.  With this film we see exactly what they saw.  So it's like going back in time with them.

The film says that the prisoners were distinguished by their uniform, but doesn't go much further into it.  That's because the filmmakers wanted us to know that it was more than just Jews that were killed.  The filmmakers also said that this was an allegory for the French invasion of Algeria and they didn't want to favor any particular race.  That's why some of the camps they filmed were in France.  I remember that we watched Schindler's List in school, and I wish they would make students watch this film too.  It was very informative and emotional.  I will give it a 9/10.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

L.A. Confidential (1997)

Today's film is L.A. Confidential, which takes a look at police brutality and corruption in the 1950's.  The movie was filmed in 1997, and the 90's were not a good time for L.A. cops, what with the beatings of people and all.  This movie shows that this sort of problem has existed for ages.  Trust me I know from experience.

This film could be classified as a neo-noir, which is a noir film not made in the 1940's and 1950's.  During this time, no building in the city could be taller than City Hall, and they achieved this through really well-aimed cameras.  A lot of the scenes were actually based in real life.  The "Bloody Christmas" scene where cops beat up Mexican prisoners occurred in 1951.  The arrest of gangster leader Mickey Cohen did lead to a war to replace him.  Well, that would happen anytime a leader is arrested, because there is always someone to take their place.

I think that it is funny that a film about American cops would star two Australian guys.  Another thing to note is that not a single person in this film is "good".  There are actually three main characters.  Bud White (Russell Crowe) is temperamental and violent, and the corrupt chief uses this knowledge for his own gain often.  Exley (Guy Pearce) steps on everyone to get to where he wants to be.  Jack Vicennes (Kevin Spacey) is another detective, who is famous and gets paid off by a sleazy tabloid writer, played by Danny Devito.  They investigate a shooting in a diner which ultimately involves the chief of police. They decide to work together to do the right thing, but by then it might be too late for them.

Of course with a noir there has to be a femme fatale.  She is Lynn, played by Kim Basinger.  She did not age well.  Anyway, her character works at a place where hookers look like movie stars.  Places like that did exist back then just like they do today. Lynn looks just like Veronica Lake, who is most famous for Sullivan's Travels, but actually did play a femme fatale in some films.  So the cycle goes on and on!  Unfortunately, the romantic boat sinking movie also came out this year, so this film was denied the Best Picture award.  That is too bad, because there were a lot of great performances in this film.  I will give this film a 9/10.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Star is Born (1954)

Today's film is A Star is Born.  There is a lot of singing.  But it's all done by one person, Judy Garland.  Like she has to sing every song.  There's too much singing.

I watched the restored version, which is longer than the theatrical version.  The film itself had been lost, but the soundtrack was found, so they put still images where the film would be.  It made a lot more sense with the extra stuff put in.

This was one of Judy Garland's last films.  That's probably why she put such effort into singing everything.  Her character, Esther/Vicki's husband, Norman, is an alcoholic.  Judy in real life suffered from addiction and eventually passed away from an overdose.  There is a deeper theme of addiction and depression in this film that is slightly hidden by all the happy singing. So I feel that this was very personal project for her.  It is pretty dark that way.  The film dragged on a bit, but it was okay.  I will give it a 5/10.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Today's film is Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.  I didn't realize it was this old!  I reviewed the first movie, Mad Max, back in 2013, and the review can be found here.  If you missed the first film, the entire plot is summed up in the first three minutes of the second movie.  Max was a state trooper who lost his family.  Also, the world has been dealing with the aftermath of nuclear war, especially the need for gasoline.

If they needed gasoline so badly, why didn't they focus on alternative fuels?  Well, remember that the 70's people were facing a manufactured "oil shortage" and were desperate for gas.  This is just the extreme of that.  Also, it shows their logic.  Max is like, "gas is a scarce resource, better drive a V8". People weren't as environmentally minded as they are now, and we have much better technology (like hybrid and electric cars).

This movie is an awesome punk rock movie.  It was composed by Brian May!!  Also, all the bad guys dress like Oakland Raiders fans.  The good guys dress in lighter colors.  This movie is all punk rock and cars and danger and it's such a fun movie to watch.  I love how the characters are so unique and we don't know much of their back story.  They're all about the now, because the past, the world before the apocalypse, is gone.  I also like the feral child, who is unnamed.  He reminds me of my daughter, who doesn't talk but always gets done what needs to be done.  I will give this film a 8/10.