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.

Friday, August 7, 2015

À bout de soufflé (Breathless) (1960)

Today's film is À bout de soufflé (Breathless).  I honestly did not like this film.  It begins with a car thief (Michel) shooting a cop and fleeing to Paris. He visits his sort-of girlfriend, an American named Patricia who sells newspapers on the street.

 Patricia  starts off with "boo hoo I think I might be pregnant but I'm not going to make sure or even mention it again for the rest of the film".  Wasn't she supposed to go to the doctor? You can't just announce something like that and not follow up later in the story.  What a cheap way to invoke drama!  This was obviously written by a man.

Besides, Michel is a really nasty awful person.  He keeps blowing smoke in her face and he never takes that nasty cigarette out of his mouth.  For someone who is supposedly his girlfriend, he tells her that she makes him want to puke and she's a scumbag.  He spends all his time on her phone in her house but doesn't show her any respect.

Patricia finally tells the police where Michel can be found.  When they catch up to him, they shoot him on the spot and he dies.  This doesn't shock me because police shoot people all the time, just watch the news.

I know many people must have liked all the random jump cuts, but I did not.  It was distracting and at times irritating.  Even the editor himself said it wasn't intentional during the film's shooting.  There's no deeper meaning to the jump cuts.  So many people look for a deep meaning for everything when there's really not.  The film itself was written on the spot by Godard (both writer and director) and it definitely shows.  I will give it a 3/10.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Inside Out (2015)

Today's film is Inside Out!  I actually watched this a while ago, but am posting it now.  Mainly because every time I hear the term Inside out, I think of the song by Diana Ross. "Upside down, boy you turn me, inside out, and round and round".  So I figured posting would get the song out of my head.  The movie is a look at what goes on inside people's heads and personifies everything.  We specifically are looking at the mind of 11-year-old Riley.

I really enjoyed this movie, because a lot of times I watch a Disney (or Pixar) film and I think, I really wish there was more Lewis Black in this.  And now I finally get my wish!  He plays Anger, and doesn't need to act because he's just himself and he's awesome.  The "leader" emotion is Joy, who is played by Amy Poehler.  There are so many celebrities voicing characters in this movie.  One of my favorites is Disgust! She's played by Mindy Kaling and her job is to protect Riley from disgusting things, like broccoli.

Riley is an only child growing up in Minnesota.  She has lots of friends, and is a natural at playing hockey.  Her parents start a new business venture and they all move to San Francisco.  This is a huge culture shock for Riley, and she tries to handle it the best she can.  The emotion Sadness starts to touch her core memories, making her sad.  Joy, the leader, does not ever want to upset Riley and tries her hardest to silence Sadness.  Through a series of events, Joy begins to realize that Riley needs Sadness.  She needs to be able to miss her friends and old way of life so she can grow and begin a new chapter in a new place.

There's a lot of gags and adult jokes that are fun to look for.  Also, they show other people's minds too, and that's pretty funny.  As the emotions learn to work better together, they see that Riley's thoughts and memories become more mature.  As she turns 12, they build new control panel to handle all these changes including a switch for "puberty".  Joy doesn't worry about this because she helped Riley get through the whole "moving to a new state" crisis; what could possibly happen to her in the next few years?  This is one of the best Pixar films in a long time.  I think it's an even better family film than The Incredibles.  I will give it a 9/10.