Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Today is Cesar Chavez Day!  Chavez worked hard to promote fair conditions for workers and was famous for organizing a grape strike.  So today, we're watching The Grapes of Wrath to see just how bad things were for migrant workers back then.

The film starts off with Tom Joad returning from prison to find his family home foreclosed on.  In our neighborhood the HOA is trying to foreclose on everybody so I know that it's hard.  However, I don't trust Tom because he killed a man with a shovel.  There is no way you can accidentally kill someone with a shovel.

Tom and his family, all 12 of them, pile onto an old car and head to California.  They find jobs as fruit pickers but the conditions are so horrible.  One thing I don't understand is why does Tom give his name to everyone when they sign up to work.  Tom's on probation and can't cross state lines.  So there's twelve other people who can sign the paperwork!! There's no computers, no facebook, no way for the police to track him at all, except for the paper trail that he himself is creating! He is stupid!

Yes, the cops are corrupt and the corporations are corrupt and hard working people are broke, but that is no different from today.  Yet, Tom once again kills someone with a shovel! Fool needs to be in jail!  Tom leaves his family and wanders off so they won't get in trouble for harboring him. 

This movie shows that even though things were really bad back then, we still have a long way to go. I will give this film an 8/10.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Today's film is The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  I liked it because it had a happy ending, but not like you would expect.

In 1925, two Americans, Dobbs and Curtin (who is hot), are jobless and homeless in Mexico.  They meet an old prospector, Howard and decide to go gold-hunting in the wilds of Mexico.  They work really hard and actually find some gold.

One thing I don't understand is why Dobbs was in Mexico if he can't speak Spanish.  I mean, he doesn't understand a single word they say, and they spoke slowly enough where I understood everything.  What was he doing in Mexico then?  No wonder he can't find a job.

When Curtin goes to town to pick up supplies, he is followed by a guy from Texas named Cody.  Dobbs is suspicious that he will take their gold and wants to kill him.  Just then, they are attacked by stereotypical bandidos and the only casualty is the guy they didn't want there in the first place.  From his body they find a letter from his now-widow talking about his quest for riches and their orchard at home.

Howard the doctor prospector

As time goes on, Dobbs becomes more and more paranoid about his gold.  Meanwhile, some villagers arrive and ask Howard to take care of a boy who fell down a well.  He does some sort of ancient cpr and heals him.  Was Howard a doctor before he started prospecting? How did they know to specifically ask him for help over the others?

Dobbs shoots Curtin and leaves him for dead, and takes all of the gold for himself.  Howard the doctor/prospector cleans out his wound and they chase after Dobbs.  Without anyone to protect him, the bandidos catch up to Dobbs and kill him, but are too stupid to realize the shiny sand he's carrying is gold.  They are also too stupid to realize selling branded animals is a bad idea.

Curtin and Howard get their burros back, but find out that all the gold has been carried away by the wind.  Dr. Howard laughs at their predicament.  The mountain gives and the mountain takes away.  He goes back to the village to be the town doctor and live a life of comfort.  He convinces Curtin to visit Cody's widow in time for the fruit harvest.  So, the greedy bad guy who tried to kill them dies, and the bandidos die.  Everyone else lives happily ever after even without any gold.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Goldfinger (1964)

This year is the 51st anniversary of Goldfinger.  This time, Bond is asked to follow Auric Goldfinger, a jeweller that has gold literally everywhere.  How is he moving it across borders?  Of course, if it's done illegally, then the government is going to seize some.  The government wants some of that gold pie and are sending Bond to do their dirty work.  Bond's like adddventure time and leaves immediately to follow them. 

Adddventure Time!! - James Bond, probably

He has met Goldfinger before, and banged his girlfriend.  Goldfinger retaliates by making his minions paint her gold, which kills her of "skin suffocation".  Ok, we don't breathe through our skin. We're not frogs. Come on.  Bond needs to learn to say no sometimes.

While driving along following Goldfinger, Bond encounters Tilly the terrible sniper, who is out for revenge for her sister's death.  Her sister is the gold-painted girl.  After an awesome car chase inside a building, Bond is captured and almost killed.  By a laser! In the book, it was a tablesaw but lasers are awesomer.  This is actually the first time a laser appears in a film.  Bond bluffs his way out of death and is taken to Auric's horse ranch in America.  The pilot of his plane's name is Pussy Galore, which is the best Bond girl name ever.  She rejects his advances because she's a lesbian.  Pussy Galore is the real hero of the story!  She flies a plane, does judo, and saves the day!

Goldfinger plans to gas the area around Fort Knox to render everyone unconscious so he can reach the gold.  However, the gas he plans to use is deadly.  Pussy Galore switches out the gas tanks on her flying brigade's planes so they won't kill anyone.  In the book, Goldfinger does plan to steal all the gold.  But in the movie, Bond uses his math skills to show how impossible this is.  So Goldfinger's new plan is to blow a dirty bomb on it, which won't destroy it, but irradiate it and make it useless.  This in turn will make Goldfinger's gold worth more.  Bond does manage to kill Oddjob, but someone else turns the bomb off and without Galore's intervention, everyone would have died.  This is the most exciting Bond film so I will give it a 7/10.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

From Russia with Love (1963)

Yay! A film based on my favorite book - From Russia with Love!  This is the second Bond film made, both starring Sean Connery.  Bond has such cool stuff. He has a folding rifle, car phone, mini tape recorder, and this book was written in 1957!  Bond is straight up future!

The movie is a bit more convoluted than the book.  Originally, it was simply the Russians who set up Tatiana to meet Bond.  But the filmmakers had to toss SPECTRE into the mix again, rendering the Russians innocent.  So SPECTRE is playing the Russians and the British against each other.

Tatiana is played by Daniela Bianchi, who won Miss Universe in 1960.  Bond in the movies look different from the books, mainly because we have to look at him.  He has black hair, blue eyes, and has scars.  He's not great looking.  Ian Fleming intended him to be a dull person that awesome things happen to.  But in the movies he's different.

Even though MI6 knows it's a trap, they send Bond to retrieve the Lector (a codebreaking machine) from Tatiana, who has promised it in return for safe passage to England.  Bond meets Kerim Bay while in Turkey, who helps him during his mission.  They decide to travel by train to England.  It would have been smarter and quicker to travel by plane, because Bond flew to Turkey, didn't he?  Well this is what we call a plot device, since traveling on a train will take days, there's more chance of dangerous and exciting things happening.  There'd be no movie if he just flew back!
Lots of villains try to attack Bond, but fail. There's lots of action, and even a boat chase! Exciting!
Remember when I mentioned that Bond dies in this novel? Well he does. He's killed by Klebb, the scary Soviet lady.  In the movie, she's more timid of her boss rather than scary.  She's killed by Tatiana in an effort to prove her loyalty, so Bond doesn't die in the film.
Even though the filmmakers made this film more complicated than it needed to be, it was still an enjoyable watch.  I will give it a 6/10.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dr. No (1962)

I read all of the James Bond novels in college, so I've never seen any of the movies.  I don't feel like I need to, because books are always better than movies.  But, most of the series is on the list, so I'm going to go ahead and just watch them all.  I'm going to compare them to the books a little bit.

Today's film is Dr. No, which is the first film, but not the first book.  All the books make references to the events and characters in the other books, but this one requires no previous knowledge.  Quarrel and Strangways met Bond in Live and Let die, but they simply meet in this film.  And, when M fusses at Bond to use a better gun because his Beretta jams on the last mission, he's referring to the mission in From Russia With Love (that's the first book I read).  Now if Q gives him all his weapons, wouldn't he have given him the Beretta too?  Yep! A fan wrote to Ian Fleming complaining about Bond's gun, so this complaint dealt with here.

There have been other films with action in them before, but none like this.  The others have had elements of mystery or suspense, and this is just straight up action.  It ushered in a new era of action movies and started an entire franchise lasting all the way to modern times.  We are still making and watching Bond films to this day.

The plot is simple.  Dr. No and his goons are bad; James Bond and the British people are good.  Also, the Americans are good, but we really don't need their help.  Also, space travel is good, radiation is bad.  We don't learn anything about Dr. No, or his metal hands, but we know he's using radiation to stop Americans from launching their space shuttle.

The book goes into more detail about Dr. No and why he has metal hands.  The film matches up to the book pretty well, it just leaves out a lot.  It's like reading the cliffnotes.  You just get what you need for the basic plot and nothing else.  This leads us to have nothing but excitement the whole time.

When Bond sees Honeychile (called Honey in the film) on the beach, she is butt naked, but is not attractive since she has a broken nose.  In the film, she's beautiful, not disfigured, and wearing a bathing suit.   Even though several different actors play Bond in the films, it's not really different than reading the books.  He dies in From Russia with Love, and in the next book, he's totally fine! He's like a Looney Tunes character!  In this sense it's okay for different people to play him. I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Today's film is Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Hugh Grant always looks so tired in every film he's in.  He needs to take some vitamins.  I liked this film because we get what we are promised.  It says "Four weddings and a funeral" and we get four weddings and a funeral.  This already gets bonus points.

So, Charles is afraid of commitment and not a very good boyfriend, either, as we learn.  He sees Carrie, an American, at a friend's wedding.  A few months go by, and he is invited to another wedding, which is great because the bride and groom fell in love at the previous wedding.  Charles and his roommate Scarlett are perpetually late to everywhere they go, and this includes very important events such as weddings.  It's funny to see them rush around.

Charles encounters Carrie again, and they spend the night together.  But surprise! She's engaged to a rich dude and never told him.  She's not married yet and already cheating on her husband, and Charlie is an unwitting pawn.  She is trouble.  She invites him to her wedding.  Since she is now unavailable, Charles settles for marrying one of his past girlfriends, but Carrie shows up and screws everything up.  Charles leaves his bride at the altar for Carrie, but not before getting punched in the face. 

The funeral in the title was for his close friend, who dies at Carrie's wedding of a heart attack.  You'd think it would be Carrie's husband who would die and free her to marry Charles.  Nope, she divorces her husband.  Since she was cheating on him with Charles, what's going to stop her from cheating on him as well? Oh, and they kiss in the rain.  That is really cliché, but I went to England before and it rained every day. So it might just be the weather. 

If you like Hugh Grant, then you'll like this movie.  He gives a strong performance.  Also, I was pleased to see a character that doesn't speak that can be taken seriously.  My daughter, Azalea, can now somewhat parrot whatever I say, which is funny when we watch Jeopardy! but still cannot form her own words or sentences.  She's great at signing though.  It's rare to see someone who talks like her in a film.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Today's film is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  It stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe as Dorothy and Lorelei, two cabaret singers. Dorothy is like crazy hot. Lorelei is a shameless gold digger who is dating a nerdy guy but still exploits other men for jewels, especially diamonds which she loves and sings about.

Lorelei goes on a cruise to France paid for by her boyfriend's father, who disapproves of her, mainly because she is a shameless gold digger. She takes Dorothy with her as her "chaperone", but she's there to ogle hot guys.  Also, this is a musical, but there's not too much singing in it.

I know that feel, Dorothy. God damn.

Lorelei's future father-in-law hires a private investigator to follow her around and prove that she's cheating on her boyfriend.  She does, and she weasels a man, Piggy, into giving his wife's diamond tiara to her.  I don't trust any woman that calls her man "daddy".

Dorothy falls in love with the pi, because he is hot.  But, she gets wise to what he's doing, and steals back the incriminating photos of her friend.  When they get to France, Lorelei's father-in-law stops paying for anything after learning what she's done.  Without any money, they are forced to leave the hotel and get jobs again.  Although without work visas, they could have been deported and gotten their old jobs back where they live.

Piggy's wife and lawyer accuse Lorelei of stealing her diamond tiara, which she technically did.  She blackmailed him into giving it to her, even though it wasn't his to give.  Dorothy does what she can to clear her friend's name and get back with the hot pi.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Ever since Disney bought Marvel, I have been waiting for a Disneyesque Marvel animated feature and here it is!  My family loved this film.  It has everything we love about Disney movies and everything we love about Marvel movies.  Today's film is Big Hero 6.

The animation has come a really long way in the past ten years.  The human characters in this film look ten times better and more realistic than in The Incredibles.  Also, it's set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo (a combo of San Francisco and Tokyo) so if you watch it more than once (like if you have kids that insist on watching the same movie 100 times) have fun looking for famous buildings from both cities.  I found quite a few.

The story centers around two brothers, both geniuses in the robotics/engineering world.  One, Tadashi, is a college student who builds Baymax, a white inflatable robot nurse.  The younger one is Hiro (the hero of the story, you get it?) a fourteen-year-old who participates in illegal battlebot games.  Tadashi convinces Hiro to apply to college by taking him to his lab (once, he's not a hard sell) and meeting his friends and all their neat inventions.

Go Go is a tough girl who tells people to "Woman Up!" and works on a frictionless bike, and Honey Lemon is a Rapunzel look-alike (seriously look at her face.  Azalea had a phase where she watched Tangled several times a day.  I'd recognize that face anywhere.) who works with chemical reactions.  Wasabi (who is called that because he spilled wasabi one time) is a neat freak who works with lasers, and then there's Fred, who doesn't attend school, but loves science.

Hiro invents mind-controlled microbots to impress the college enough to let him attend.  The masked villain steals the microbots and Hiro, along with Baymax and his friends, track him down.  Also, Disney has finally graduated from killing off parents during children's movies because they died before the story even starts.  Hiro turns Baymax from a sweet healthbot into a fighting machine.

My favorite character is Fred, whose dream is to become a fire-breathing murloc.  Follow your dreams.  Also, Baymax is the real star of the movie.  He was programmed to treat pyshical ailments, but when Hiro is depressed, he downloads an entire database of depression and grief help just for him.  He unquestioningly follows him on his quest to turn him into a armor clad superhero, and only stops to prevent killing someone else.

The movie is funny and self-aware at times. "This is our origin story!", Fred cries.  He is also the one to realize they are being chased by a supervillain.  And, we get to watch their training as well.  They are not as good as they could be.  Since it's a Marvel film, we know the villain is going to open some portal (this time a Stargate-like teleporter) and they have to fight him to stop it.  And they succeed.  The animation is wonderful and is one of the best parts of the film.  The city looks beautiful and the people look real.  This film won best animated picture this year.  I will give it a 9/10.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marty (1955)

My family got to watch part of the Oscars and it was very enjoyable.  The only film nominated for best picture that I saw was The Grand Budapest Hotel which I watched because I watch everything Wes Anderson makes.  I really want to watch Birdman soon and I think it will be great.  Also, we were sad that Leonard Nimoy passed away, but he had a long life. I hope this gif makes you smile.

Today's film is Marty. It is an enjoyable film about two awkward people trying to find love.  Marty is the oldest of six children and the only single one.  Everyone wonders when he's going to get married.  He's only 34 but I think people got married young back then.  He hangs out with his single friends after work as a butcher.  Marty is always harrassed about why he isn't married yet, and he feels too fat and ugly to attract a woman.  But he's not fat or ugly. He always gets turned down for dates but he goes out to the dance hall anyway to appease his mother.
He meets Clara at the dance hall after she is dumped. She's not the prettiest woman, as evidenced by her lack of makeup, but she is really nice and smart. She is a chemistry teacher. He takes her home and later, his mom comes in.  His mom doesn't like Clara because she went to college and doesn't want to pop out a hundred babies to clean after.  Also, she only wants him to marry an Italian girl and tells Marty she doesn't like him.
Marty listens to his mom and doesn't call Clara when he's supposed to.  Meanwhile, his aunt moves in as well because she is terrorizing her daughter-in-law and her baby.  He goes out with his friends who can't figure out what to do that night.  They are in a state of boredom and want to find anything to do and that is the same as today.  Marty realizes that everyone around him is unhappy.  His married relatives yell at each other and fight, and his widowed aunt and mother always nag and fight.  The only person who was nice and happy was Clara, whom they don't want anything to do with.  Marty declares that he deserves to be happy and calls Clara to ask for another date.  It doesn't matter if someone isn't the same race or ethnicity as you, as long as they love you.  Marty stopped listening to people bringing him down.  That's a good lesson. Let haters be our motivators.  I will give this film an 8/10.