Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Today's film is The Bridge on the River Kwai, which focuses on a Japanese prison camp during WWII.  A huge troop of British soldiers and officers have been captured, and the director of the camp forces them to build a bridge for the Japanese army.  There's also an American who has been there for some time, but more on him later.

The main officer, Col. Nicholson, plays only by the rules and claims he and the other officers shouldn't be doing manual labor like working on a bridge.  The director, Saito, doesn't care about no stupid Geneva convention and wants as many people as possible working.  This becomes a battle of stubbornness between the two, and we know how stubborn men can be.  Eventually, Nicholson wins and the British set out to build a really good bridge.

Now this bridge becomes a source of British pride for Col Nicholson and he gets really hardcore about it.  He refuses to sabotage any of it, and makes his soldiers build it the best they can, so years later when the war is over, they can all be remembered for this super fantastic bridge of awesome.  That's in the middle of nowhere in a jungle.  They even erect a fancy plaque to commemorate the bridge. Really.

Remember the American dude from the beginning?  Well he escapes and with the help of local villagers, makes a miraculous recovery.  The navy wants him to go back and lead them on a dangerous mission through the jungle - to blow up the bridge on the River Kwai.  He really doesn't want to.  He spent a long time in the awful prison camp, suffered, and saw many people die.  He is starting to get over what he went through and they are forcing him to go back.  He agrees to go with them.  It takes a while but they do make it to the bridge.

They set up the charges to blow up the bridge, but of course Col Nicholson spots them and runs down to investigate.  He really gets in their way of blowing up the bridge, and causes the death of the soldiers responsible for blowing it up.  The soldiers tell him what the mission is about and he realizes he let his personal pride ruin what they were doing.  He falls on the plunger himself and blow up the bridge.  Now when he is hit he lands over there <----  and then falls on the plunger which is over here ------>.   Well that is remarkably convenient.  Overall it was a very enjoyable film.  I will give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Jungle Book (1967)

So I figured since I reviewed the live action version last month, I really should review the original Disney version of The Jungle Book.  You can read the review of the 2016 version here.  I actually like the newer version better.

I had the great fortune to watch The Jungle Book in the theaters when it was re-released in the early 90's.  It was originally made in 1967 and was one of the last films approved by Walt Disney himself.  This film is especially rare since the earlier ones focused on princesses more, and there are almost no female characters in this.

The whole film feels a bit rushed.  They also tried to cram too many songs in there.  All anyone ever remembers are Baloo and King Louie's songs so it's not like it matters.  My husband asked me why the vultures looked like the Beatles.  They didn't have the vultures in the live action film, and obviously their song was cut.  They actually were based on the Beatles because the filmmakers wanted them to voice them, but it didn't work out.  I think it would have been hilarious if they actually did.  That makes me think, what is the difference between vultures and buzzards? I really don't know.

The character of Mowgli is also a lot different.  The live action one makes all these inventions, which show off his human cunning and intuition whereas cartoon Mowgli doesn't do this.  The cartoon character also seems a lot younger and more immature.  Live action Mowgli chooses to leave the pack of his own volition in order to protect them from Shere Khan.  The cartoon one simply gets kicked out and doesn't understand.

My daughter really loved Shere Khan.  When he appeared on screen, she would jump out of her seat and yell,  Tiger! Tiger!!! RAWRRR!   I believe this is because my husband and I both went to Auburn and are huge Auburn Tigers fans.  We have tiger stuff all over our house and love tigers.  So Azalea simply can't see a tiger as a villain.

Overall, this isn't the best Disney film, but there are some good songs and it's great to watch with kids.  I will give it a 6/10.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gimme Shelter (1970)

Today's film is Gimme Shelter, a documentary about one of the greatest rock n roll bands of all time, The Rolling Stones.  The first half shows them making an album and features a lots of great songs everyone is sure to recognize.

The majority of the film focuses on their quest to make a free concert to mimic Woodstock.  The problem is that you can't recreate outdoor festivals because they're all different.  Also, they planned to do it at the Altamont Speedway in California.  There was a lot more drugs and violence at this concert than Woodstock.

Instead of hiring a security firm or off duty police officers for their concert, The Rolling Stones decided to hire the Hell's Angels as their security.  This was probably not the best idea.  However, they did do their job.  One Hell's Angel stabbed a man, but film footage reveals he had a gun drawn and could have easily shot a performer or an audience member.

The crowd was so wild and out of control at this concert.  It's like they had no respect for anything.  This year, I was upset that my husband would not take me to the local outdoor concert because he thought it would be too dangerous for a pregnant woman.  During the Altamont concert, four women gave birth!  60s women are hardcore!

This is a good documentary for us to see a historical event as it happened.  This concert showed the end of the Woodstock-hippie era.  Everyone thought that the hippies would usher in a time of peace and love and harmony.  But the Altamont concert proved that nope, people are still assholes.  If anything, the film shows lots and lots of good music.  It's like listening to an album and watching a film at the same time.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Today's film is The Greatest Show on Earth, but it's definitely not the greatest movie on earth.  Why are Charlton Heston movies so long?  I remember watching this on tv when I was little, but all I remembered was the train crash, so I thought I should watch the whole thing.  So this marks the 50th best picture film I have ever seen.

I wouldn't call this a best picture, but compared to the other films nominated? Probably yeah.  There was like Ivanhoe and Moulin Rouge and stuff, so I can see that a super exciting circus picture would win it.  It's more of like an almost 3 hour long commercial for Barnum and Bailey circus.  The worst part was Betty Hutton's acting by a long shot.  They have scenes showing each of the acts, the animals, and a whole section about putting the tent up. They make sure to mention the tent's fireproof quality because just a few years before, a circus tent burned to the ground, killing over 100 people.  And no one has to worry about racketeers or thieving carnies at the circus, because they will get thrown in the mud.  No, literally they get thrown in the mud.

The main reason why I really don't like the circus and I'll never take my kids is because of the animals.  Animals are not meant to be locked in cages and only let out to perform for people.  That's a horrible way to live.  They are portrayed positively in this film, and an elephant trainer even uses her elephant to lift off a broken rail off the boss, when machinery could not.  Barnum and Bailey actually stopped using elephants in its acts this year, but is it too little, too late?

There's lots of subplots in this movie and there has to be because circuses take a lot of people to run.  The boss, Brad (Charlton Heston) hires a popular new act to ensure a full season.  The act is Sebastian, a hot either French or Italian, I cant tell, aerial act.  This forces Brad's girlfriend, also an aerial artist, out of the center ring which devastates her.

My little sister is actually an aerial artist for the circus which is one reason why I find circuses so interesting.  Aerial artists (they hate being called trapeze artists) take what they do really seriously and often feel invincible doing it.  That's why Holly used the wrong rope to do her spins and why Sebastian cut away his net.  They don't see the danger in what they're doing.

Another thing is they gave Buttons the clown wayyy too much screentime.  He's like in every scene.  And the big reveal is that he's actually a murderer.  Well of course he's a murderer, he's a clown.  I didn't need to see any of the movie to tell you that.

This may not be the best acted movie ever, but you don't go to the circus for the acting.  You go because it's exciting.  And there's a lot going on everywhere you look. And this film achieved that so I will give it an 8/10.