Monday, February 22, 2016

Ugetsu monogatari (Ghost Story) (1953)

Today's film is Ugetsu monogatari, which means "ghost story".  I do love a good ghost story.  Ghosts can be benevolent or have evil intentions, basically no different than living people.

The film takes place in feudal Japan; a time of shogun and samurai, a time of constant wars.  Caught in the middle of this is a family that makes pottery.  The husband's name is Genjuro and he hopes to make a fortune selling in the city.  Meanwhile, their neighbor Tobei wants to be a samurai despite not being born into the class nor having any combat training or armor.  Their wives warn them against their ambitions.

While in the city, Genjuro encounters a beautiful woman with serious eyebrow game and her old nurse.   She loves his beautiful pottery and orders it to be taken to her mansion.  Lots of weird stuff warn us that this is not a good idea.  The woman is Lady Wakasa and she is the last surviving member of her family.

Genjuro falls under Lady Wakasa's spell and stays with her despite being married.  Tobei through sheer luck does become a samurai, but loses his fortune just as quickly.  While Genjuro is busy cheating, his wife and child try to make their way back home.  His wife is robbed and killed by passing soldiers, but her little boy escapes.

When I studied Drama History, I actually wrote my term paper on Noh drama, which is a type of theatre performance.  Lady Wakasa's mask-like makeup and slow, deliberate movements are exactly what you would see in a Noh drama.  These plays often focus on kami, or spirits, which is another way of foretelling us that Lady Wakasa is not of this world.

Genjuro finally comes clean to Lady Wakasa and tells him that he's already married and escapes.  But he learns the truth, that everything was an illusion!  Even the mansion they were staying in was actually burned down!

Genjuro returns home to his wife and child, but we know that his wife is not really there.  She returned one last time to see him and make sure her son was safe.  The next day, Genjuro learns that she was killed while he was busy cheating, and he feels bad.  Tobei and his wife who are back to their normal lives too, learn that having too much ambition and being greedy can ruin you.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Today's film is Some Like it Hot.  It's got Marilyn Monroe in it!  Yeah let's watch!

The two most funniest things in the universe:

  1. Farts
  2. Men dressed up as women

So, these two male musicians, Joe and Jerry, witness a mob hit, and not just any mob hit, but the famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which 8 people were murdered.  They see a group of female musicians, and run away with them as to avoid being made.

There's men dressed up as women, men dressed up pretending to be different men, it all gets crazy.  Is no one who they say they really are?  Joe tries his best to woo Marilyn Monroe, which can't be that hard, I mean she's Marilyn Monroe. Come on.  Meanwhile, Jerry as a woman is fancied by a millionaire.  He tries everything he can to keep him away without revealing himself, but in the end he comes clean and admits he's really a man in disguise.  The millionaire doesn't care about that and he and Jerry are still married to this day.

If this movie was remade today, it would star Adam Sandler and Kevin James and my husband would watch it every Friday.  10/10 would watch again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Come Drink with Me (Dai zui xia) (1966)

Yay! It's time to watch a kung fu movie and today's will be Come Drink with Me!  This is a fun film that is full of a lot of action.  And it stars a woman!

So the bad guys kidnap the governor's son and hold him for ransom.  The price will be the release of their leader.  The governor sends his best constable to rescue him.  She also happens to be the governor's daughter.

The constable, Golden Swallow, at first wears her hair up in a bun and men's clothes.  Everyone calls her a young man, but it's clearly obvious she's a woman.  This proves a point we learned by watching Mulan: All you have to do is put your hair in a bun and everyone will believe you are a man, no matter how feminine you look.

Golden Swallow is helped by a drunken singing beggar called Drunken Cat.  He is funny and always tries to help her.  She arrives at the temple to fight everyone and rescue her brother.  There are some great fight scenes here.  However, she is hit by a poison dart and runs off.

She is rescued by Drunken Cat, who really is a kung fu master in secret!!  The bad guys are being helped by an evil monk, who is also a kung fu master!  So many kung fu masters, more than you can shake a stick at!!

The bad guy monk wants Drunken Cat's staff for reasons, but he's like NOPE.  And they have awesome kung fu battles.  Meanwhile, Golden Swallow manages to save her brother without having to give up the bad guy leader.  Golden Swallow and her band of female fighters battle with the bad guys.  Then, Drunken Cat and evil monk guy have a battle of the staff.

This movie was exciting and had excellently choreographed fight scenes.  Also, it had decent female characters without being patronizing.   I will give it an 8/10.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cría cuervos (1976)

Today's film is Cría cuervos.  It stars children but it is not a child's film.

The term "Cría cuervos" means to "raise ravens (crows)".  This means to say if you raise a raven, they'll scratch your eyes out.  Same way if you raise a child poorly, they'll end up destroying you.

The film stars three orphan girls, Irene, Ana, and Maite.  Their mother was sickly, pale, and eventually died of cancer.  Their father was an army man who regularly cheated on her.  The mother gives Ana a jar of baking soda and tells her to throw it out because it is a dangerous poison.  Ana, not knowing what baking soda really is, keeps it for her nefarious purposes.  She puts it in her father's milk to "poison" him, and when he dies of  a possible heart attack, she believes the poison works.

Now that the girls are without both parents, their mother's sister, Aunt Paulina moves in.  Also, their invalid grandmother comes with her.  She is in a wheelchair and cannot speak.  At first, they are happy, but they realize that Aunt Paulina has the exact personality of their dad!  This does not please Ana at all, and she lets everyone know this.

The orphan girls - Ana, little Maite, and Irene.

Ana often dreams of her mother and father, and has conversations with them often.  We can tell these are really dreams instead of visions, because her mother always tells her it's late and she should be asleep.  Well she is asleep.

Aunt Paulina isn't even a good mom, often leaving to do who knows what while the eldest, Irene, has to babysit.  When she's not gone, she's busy at the house making out with married men.  The only person Ana has to talk to about her parents is the family housekeeper, Rosa, who has known her since birth.  But, Paulina quickly shuts them down and won't let her "gossip" about her sister.  Talking about her parents is a healthy outlet and Paulina actively seeks to stop that.  Paulina is incredibly rude towards Rosa.

Ana is so frustrated at Paulina's presence (who really is like father version 2.0)  that she plots to poison her as well.  So, she dumps baking soda in her milk and is shocked to see her alive the next day.  At the end, the summer is over and they are no longer cooped up in the house.  They dress for school and head out into the city.  Maybe being away from the house for awhile will be good for them.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

In Bloom (2013)

Today's film is In Bloom, which takes place in the country of Georgia during the early 1990s.  This was right after the collapse of the Soviet empire.  So, Georgia in the 1990s looked a lot different from America.

What do I remember from the 90s?  I remember there were a lot of grocery stores that were convenient, and a lot of tacky fast food restaurants.  There were no coffee shops like Starbucks back then, at least not in Florida.  There was one Dunkin Donuts, but their coffee is hella nasty.  There were no Walmarts to rape the small towns with their presence, but they would soon come.

  What is interesting is that Georgia had none of this!  All of these things are examples of capitalism, and there's nothing like that there.  It was definitely a no-frills country.  They had just been freed from the rule of the Soviets, but still were working out some issues.  There was widespread poverty and violence was the norm.  There were still daily breadlines and every parent somehow managed to be an alcoholic.

Dealing with all this are two fourteen-year-olds, Eka and Natia.  They just want to go to school and live a normal life.  A boy named Lado likes Natia and gives her a gun as a gift.  Well, he may be more Floridian than we thought! That is a totally normal gift here, but for most of America, a girl may appreciate roses or chocolates more as a romantic gift.  The gun plays a significant role in this film.  The gun is actually meant to protect her from a practice called "bride kidnapping" which is exactly what it sounds like.  However, Natia gets kidnapped and forced into marriage anyway!

At first, Natia doesn't mind because her new husband is nice and her in-laws are more cordial than her loud drunken family.  But soon, she learns that married life isn't as great as it appears to be.  She was only 14 and had to drop out of school.  Then, Lado returns and Natia's husband gets insanely jealous.  He kills Lado, and Natia becomes furious.  Naturally, she would want justice for him.  Eka is the only one who doesn't think violence is the answer to anything, as her father lives faraway in prison for murder.

It never shows what Natia decides to do with the gun, or what her husband's fate is.  We do see Eka throw the gun in a lake.  Was she trying to prevent more violence, as she did not want to see Natia suffer the same fate as her father?  Or was she hiding evidence?

It ends with Eka taking a trip to visit her father in prison, something she has never wanted to do before.  The films ends before we see him.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City) (1945)

Today's film is Rome, Open City.  This is an especially impressive film because it is about WWII and was filmed during WWII!  So like the danger was real for these people but they didn't care because they had a story to tell us.

There are quite a few films from this era made in Italy.  This country gets a lot of pity from me, because they were in the middle in the War.  The people were controlled by both the Nazis and the fascists, like nothing good comes out of that.  They were starving and broke, and then their controllers lost the war and they had to deal with that too!  It was a really rough time for Italy.

During this time, the Nazis had full control of Italy.  However, there are some rebels they are determined to get rid of.  Most of the film consists of these rebels and their families, and them hiding from the Nazis.  The local priest, Don Pietro does a lot to help the rebel cause.

I thought it was neat how they transferred messages with their secret code words and whatnot.  And one guy had a message inside a bullet!  Today we would just send a private text but it was so much harder back then.

In addition to the rebels, who all seem to be men, there are several female characters with their own stories.  One of them is a rebel's pregnant fiancee, who is gunned down in the street by the Nazis.  Another is a beautiful performer that gets tricked by a lesbian dominatrix Nazi into giving up vital information and then gets burned by her.

Eventually, the Nazis capture Don Pietro and two of the rebels.  The evil Nazi guy is trying to get information from the rebel, but he will not talk.  The Nazi tries to guilt trip Don Pietro into giving up information or convincing the others to talk.  But Don Pietro doesn't give up and refuses to meet any of his demands no matter how scary the Nazis are.  Don Pietro is straight up No-Flinch Kobe.  Of the two other rebels, one hangs himself and the other is beaten to death.

When the other Nazis ask what name they should use for the dead man, he gives a fake name, because he doesn't want to "create a martyr for the rebellion".  So instead, they decide the execute the priest.  So that's a better idea?!

This movie provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of people who lived under Nazi occupation.  I will give this film a 10/10.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy 3rd blog anniversary!

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my blog!  I am excited about the progress of my blog.  I'm still working on the 2012 version of the 1001 list in its entirety.  I keep track using icheckmovies.

Out of the total 1170 movies on the combined list, I have watched 530. Which isn't a lot, but it's a lot for me.  So, there's a long way to go to completing the 1001 list.  I've also started watching more movies from the Criterion collection, which guess what?  My husband got me a brand new laptop!  It's mainly for gaming, obviously, but I'll use it to watch films and write as well.  I am very pleased with this.  It's going to be a great year for discussing movies.