31 July 2009

The Red Balloon (1956)

I haven't seen this movie in about 20 years, but I was pleasantly surprised. I usually don't care for children, but this kid was totally okay, and the movie was very sweet [for lack of a better word]. No one speaks for the whole movie, which is pretty cool, and although this is filmed in color, almost everything in the movie is grey [besides the balloon]. Also, the music by Maurice Leroux is stunning. The red balloon follows the boy, and [spoiler alert] when it pops, all the balloons in Paris float out of windows and chimneys, rush over to him, and carry him away. The ending is actually very beautiful. Sorry for all the mushiness.

Uh oh. Looks like Pixar's Up has a little plagiarism suit coming their way.
4/5 pizzas

Niagara (1953)

Marilyn Monroe + Joseph Cotten + Mondo Waterfalls + Murder Mystery = good movie, right? Not really. It was really just okay. Let me explain: Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten are married. JC has a problem with neuroses and Marilyn Monroe is philandering [surprise surprise]. Marilyn Monroe tries to have her husband killed ala Double Indemnity, and things go awry. Watch Double Indemnity instead, or Superman 2 at that matter, as it takes place at the same locale. I have to admit, however, that the closing scene is very suspenseful -- -two people are stuck in a boat that is about to go over the falls.

You may be wondering why I even watched this movie. Well, I was talking to my grandma and she watches movies. Like, she has a Netflix account and all. Anyway, right after my dad was born, she moved onto a chicken farm with my g-pa and 1-year-old dad. By the way, this chicken farm belonged to an Aunt Bea in my family. Yeah, really. She didn't remember all that much about this chicken farm, but she does remember taking my dad to a drive-in to see Niagara.

2/5 pizzas

30 July 2009

Black Peter (1964)

This is one Milos Forman's [One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hair, Amadeus] first movies, and for a dude who makes blockbuster crowd-pleasers, this movie was hella inaccesible. It's an early Czech classic, and my first viewing of a Czech film, so cool. The movie on the whole, however, is very dull. I guess you could call it Czech neorealism with a touch of artsy fartsy, but neorealism is often boring. The protagonist is a teenage boy who works in a grocery store, hangs out with his friends in bathing suits, goes to dances, and gets yelled at by his father. This doesn't sound THAT bad, but when I have to watch a scene that is 20 minutes long of just dancing and no talking, that's when it gets bad. 80 minutes and I'm bored to bits. Sorry, Milos. I much prefer Treat Williams writhing with no shirt to the sounds of the 5th Dimension. And may I remind you that Hair is a musical!

2/5 pizzas

Gattaca (1997)

I missed out on this movie when it came out because I was only watching one movie at the time. I just didn't have time for riff raff, you know? So twelve years later, I watched Gattaca. It was recommended by a pal who made a really good joke about the movie: "What is Al Pacino's favorite Sci-Fi movie? Gattaca! Gattaca!" Funny, right?

It turned out to be pretty good. It's no Battlestar Galactica [Al Pacino's favorite TV show], but it does have a similar title. Here is a plot summary: It is the not-so-distant future and parents have control over what kinds of genes their children have -- eugenics type stuff. Ethan Hawke wants to work for Gattaca and go on a space mission, but his genes ain't good enough, so Jude Law lends him some blood/piss samples. Uma Thurman is another employee of Gattaca, and she wears her hair in a bun the whole movie. Also, Gore Vidal plays the director of Gattaca. Weird! Basically, this movie has the most good-looking Sci-Fi cast around, even considering that Ken Marino has a cameo.

My main dislike is that there was too much blood/intravenous/veins/injection action going on in the movie. I concede that this is my own fault for not loving veins and not the movie's, so sorry I guess.

3/5 pizzas

Marathon Man (1976)

OH MY GOD. This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Not only is Dustin Hoffman looking like a babe in jogging shorts for most of it, but his character is tearin' shit up too. Plus he's doing his dissertation, so no big deal. All I can say is that I was on the edge of my seat from the first five minutes, and even though it's a tad long [over 2 hours], I didn't feel antsy once. One of my friend's friends tests a movie's quality based on how sore her bum is by the end, or rather, if she notices how sore her bum is. Well, suffice it to say that I forgot I even had a bum. This movie is close to perfect -- splendid acting from Dustin, Roy Scheider, William Devane [who looks just like my grandpa], and of course Mr. Dr. Sir. Laurence Olivier as the Nazi Szell [pronounced Zell]. In all the best movies, the Nazis have last names similar to mine. Just sayin'.

Besides having a gripping, coherent plot, fantastic acting, and New York as its setting, Marathon Man is shot beautifully. I gasped [well, in my head] repeatedly during the movie, thinking just how gorgeous that baby carriage looked after that explosion, or how rad that lighted fountain in that office park was. Nice job, John Schlesinger. Make another movie with Dustin already [I like to imagine they are best friends.]
I just have one question, and I think you all know what it is: Is it safe?

5/5 pizzas, BOOM!

29 July 2009

West Side Story (1961)

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORED. This is the Lawrence of Arabia of musicals [it's 152 minutes] and the A Night at the Opera of the 60s [because you need to fast forward all the singing]. Oh, and the film does a great job of representing latin@s very acccurately. I mean, I'm glad Mr. Sondheim, Mr. Robbins, and Mr. Wise employed an all-white cast that practiced their "accents" real hard. Great job. NOT.

1/5 pizzas

Candleshoe (1977)

1977 was a big year for the world. Some people remember it as the year punk was born, but others associate it with movie history. It's the 1939 of the 70s because of this Jodie Foster classic. I am severely stricken by nostalgia whenever I watch this movie, so I'm completely biased. Even so, this movie is really really fun. Only a year after Taxi Driver, Jodi Foster makes a complete transformation and stars in this Disney epic [as a street tough, not a prostitute]. Anyway, there's a hoax, see -- a lone shark/small time crook wants to pawn her off as a long-lost granddaughter of an elderly British lady who owns an estate. Once she's planted on the estate, her job is to find the buried treasure that a pirate kept there, or else the lone shark will murder Jodie Foster. Yikes! Intense, right? Meanwhile, Jodie Foster starts to feel at home on the estate and makes pals with the other kids and butler who live there. She also starts to find clues where the buried treasure is proverbially buried, and many of the clues are hinged upon a Thomas Grey poem [a literary allusion, cool].

David Niven, the butler, has a duel with Leo McKern [of Help! fame] and fights an ax using his umbrella. Awesome!

5/5 pizzas, highly recommended

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Attention! Latent homosexuality alert!

Wait, like is this Tennessee Williams play about a dude being a homo and being torn up about it? Like, does his having a crutch and broken leg signify some kind of castration? And the movie stars Elizabeth Taylor? That never happens! Sarcasm aside, I'm a sucker for these Tennessee Williams movie adaptations, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is good in that "It's the south and it's so hot but not as hot as my womanly desires that are never satisfied by my gay husband" way. Having read only a couple of Williams' plays, seeing one or two of the screen adaptations, and hearing a lot about Maggie the Cat on several episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 when Brenda gets into "acting," I was rip roarin' to watch this movie on TCM. And it's pretty great -- lots of yelling, writhing, and people looking like babes in all their Technicolor glory.

I think I was most excited to see Judith Anderson, better known as Mrs. Danvers! from Rebecca, be "Big Momma Pollit in this movie. I'm glad she still had acting jobs almost 20 years after her best role.
3/5 pizzas

The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I first heard of this movie from V. for Vendetta, but I did. One of the only redeeming qualities about that movie was that V. was a film buff. When I saw Natalie Portman watching The Count of Monte Cristo, I thought I could do that too. Also, how could there be a movie from the 30s starring Robert Donat that I hadn't heard of ?

The 1934 version was hard to find, but the internets helped me. On the whole, the film isn't a winner. It's one of those confusing French Alexander Dumas stories that is probably 1 billion pages long in novel form yet fits into a 100-minute movie. The deal is that Robert Donat [Edmond Dantes/The Count of Monte Cristo] has been wrongly imprisoned for about 15 years, digs his way out [with the guy who plays the blind stranger in the Bride of Frankenstein], assumes a new identity, and gets mad justice on those who imprisoned him. Now, I tried to suspend disbelief, but it's really difficult for me to understand how his old boo and old pals did not recognize him as Edmond Dantes and believed that he was some new Count. Some of them were all "Hey, you remind me of someone. Nah, never mind."

I have to say, for not starring Errol Flynn, there was a pretty good sword fight in this movie. It was also nice to see Robert Donat in another flick, because I love him from those other ones. Other appearances include Louis Calhern from Notorious and Sidney Blackmer, who plays Clara's dad in Heidi. Cool!

2/5 pizzas

28 July 2009

Wings (1927)

BORED. This melodramatic movie is about flying and WWI. I guess it was important to see Clara Bow in a movie? I only watched it as part of my Best Picture Series, but it was pretty painful sitting through two and a half hours of warmongering, loop-de-loops, and crying. Thumbs down, Academy. Thumbs down. It's guaranteed that if you make a movie close to three hours you will win an undeserved Best Picture Award. Only once did a 3hr film deserve that Oscar.
1/5 pizzas

Helvetica (2007)

Helvetica is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. You guys, it's a full-length movie about fonts, or a single font, and it doesn't get boring once. This guy's in it too!
Helvetica is the font of capitalism and socialism, of modernism and postmodernism, of Jews and Gentiles, of Cure and Smiths fans. I mean, it's no Futura, but it's still a fantabulous font. Watch this movie immediately, but more importantly keep your eyes peeled for this ubiquitous font. Just like motorcycles, it's EVERYWHERE.

P.S. I kind of missed the boat on this movie and it came out 2 years ago and it's old news and all, but just deal with my enthusiasm.

5/5 pizzas