||[Jan. 3rd, 2005|10:51 pm]
One of my New Years reolutions was to watch 100 movies in 2005. My parents are keen on the idea of me writing them all down and this seems to me like the place to do it. I wont lose it, and lets be honest, nobody reads this anyway. |
1. Reckless (Victor Fleming 1935) staring Jean Harlow. A backstage musical, but more grimm than most. Harlow is fantastic. 3 stars.
2. Men with Brooms (Paul Gross 2002)A feel good sports movie, but nice and offbeat in that it features curling as its central subject. Characters have surprising deapth. 3 stars
3. A guy Thing (Chris Koch 2003) A romantic comedy, somewhere inbetween a chick flick and a movie for guys. I enjoyed this much more than I planned to. Jason Lee is very funny and Julia Stiles is Julia Stiles. 3
4. The man who shot Liberty Valance(John Ford 1962)I didn't give this film justice because I watched in in the commercial breaks while I was watching football. Also when you go into knowing that John Wayne shoots Liberty not James Stewart, the movie is all but pointless and a waste of time. I had read the story this is based on last year. James Stewart doesn't belong in Westerns and it isn't as interesting a character study as Ford's other films. 2.5 stars. Andy Devine is always a treat.
5. Bread and Tulips (Silvio Soldini 2000) A beautiful little italian film about a housewife who finds a new life for herself in Venice. I love Venice to death so Im biased, but all the characters are lovable and the film is charming and funnny. 4 stars
6. Watership down (Martin Rosen 1978)This is an animated version of Richard Adam's novel, which I havent read. It's about bunnies which makes it cute, and the animation is more artistic, with the setting looking like paintings. There are some problems with the adaptation from a more adult book to a more child friendly movie. The biggest faults is that the majority of the bunnies look too much alike for the viewer to be able to tell them apart. They don't have seperate enough personalities and there isnt enough character development to make this film all that interesting. It seems like as a novel, it could be much more leisurely presented that it is in this 90 minute film. 2 stars.
7. I love you to death (Lawrence Kasdan 1990) Retrospectivly this movie wasn't all that good, but it's so much fun that I can overlook that very easily. A very funny script, plus Kevin Kline with an Italian accent as an adulterous pizza maker whose wife tries to kill him unsucsessfully 4 times. Quite a contrast from seeing Kline in Super somber roles in Life as a house and The emperors club which I saw in the last few weeks. Also Keanu Reeves is in this playing a stoner. He, in my mind, the best actor to play a stoner, now that sean penn has a serious career. How reeves managed to have a caareer outside of stoner roles is beyond me, but here he is truly in his element. Kevin Kline's italian accent gives this movie a better than deserved 3 stars.
8. The Oxbow incident (William A. Wellman 1943) 4 stars. One of the best Westerns ever made, despite being atypical in many regards. This piece is contemplative and moral. It's also very short (75 inutes) which gets a film bonus points in my book. Wellman is making a statement, not just a film.
9. Whale Rider (Niki Caro 2002)Keisha Castle- Hughes put in an unbelivable performance in this special film. Magical and powerful. 4
10. The Sting (George Roy Hill 1973)Robert Redford, Paul Newman, plus a gangster thriller. Does it get better than that? This movie isn't all that dramatic. The acting is adequate like the script, but thats really all it needs to be because the story is great. This is the oldschool predecessor to stuff like Oceans 11. Wipes and fades are interesting, its a shame theyv'e gone out of fashion. 3.5
11. Down With Love (Peyton Reed 2003)First and formost this film is stupid. This is redeemed only by the fact that the film knows its stupid and doesn't try to hide this at all. Its silly and fun. The male and female stars play like they're expected to, in a film that wouldn't work without its Marquis names only adding to the ridiculous story. Very styalized mise en scene with corny but colorfull costumes abundent. Also plenty of wipes, an example of the film not trying to be anything other than silly. Nobody takes wipes seriously any more. More than any film Ive seen in a while, this work is driven by its dialogue. Eva Ahlert and Dennis Drake's script is witty and clever without being too smart to be for the rest of the film. The ending is dragged out much more than it needs to be. 1.5 stars
12. The treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston 1948)Wow. Not too many films get that type of reaction from me, but this one deserves it. The film is 126 minutes long and doesn't drag at all. The major conflict of the film which is foreshadowed at the beginning doesn't happen until near the end. The film features a great score and all additional sound is terrific. While the acting is great all around, the director's father, Walter Huston's portrayal of Howard really makes the film. One of the best things Ive seen. An easy 4.
13. Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger 1969) I didn't have enough patience for this tripple oscar winner. Though it is a good cultural artifact for its presentation of despondancy and isolation during vietnam, it isn't entertaining enough to cut it in my book. Despite having both sex and violence, the movie doesn't have much by way of plot, which wouldn't be so bad if it had stronger characters or a foregrounding of setting presented with artistically interesting and beautiful cinematography. I didn't feel an attachement to either of the main characters, and they seemed to be too much victims. Their friendship seems to be lacking a degree of honesty. I didn't like this one bit. And on top of all that, deduct a star for making it too long. 1 star
14. Roman Holliday (William Wyler 1953) I think I have a crush on Audrey Hepburn. What a contrast with the last film. Two truly likable characters whose relationship seems much more believable, despite the whole film being more or less a fairy tail. As I watched this film I was in Rome again, revisiting the summer when I was 16. A wonderful love story with a slightly unconventional ending. 3.5
15. The way home (Jeong-hyang Lee 2002)Is it possible to really like a movie in which we hate the main character? This Korean film tells the story of an obnoxious spoiled 7 year old living with his deaf mute grandmother in her rural home. She cares for him and he is a brat to her, not returning the affection until the very end of the film when he leaves and goes back home to his mother. This film is much quieter than most. Of the two main characters, one can't talk, and although there are a few neighboors here and there, most of the time the two of them are alone. One of the suprising things about the film is that the viewer knows what is about to happen at all times. For example, When the boys friend is running, we can tell he is about to trip. And then he does. This is beautifully filmed with plenty of long shots of gorgeous lanscape. Ultimatly though, a Western viewer in particular is left without enough to attach to. The boy is so hatable, and the grandmother is sweet but we are distanced from her because of her dissability. 2.5
16. What about Bob? (Frank Oz 1991) If you love Bill Murray, this is a 4 star film. If you don't love Bill Murray, drop off the face of the planet. Nuff said.
17. The good, the bad and the ugly (Sergio Leone) The word best fitting to describe this film is awesome. Although the film is a somewhat exausting 2 hours and 40 minutes, Ennio Morricone's score (again the word awesome can describe it the best) keeps the viewer from going anywhere. The ending, featuring Leone's signature closeups of hands to guns and intense eyes, makes the wait worthwhile. A terrific film with an epic feel. 4 stars
18. The day the earth stood still (Robert Wise 1951) I don't usually like science fiction and this film is no exception. There's plenty of corny sci-fi stuff in this film that contributed in the pionering of the convenions of the genre. The acting was passable, but certainly would not stand on its own. I found Billy Gray's portrayal of young Bobby Benson to be particularly mediocre, something most viewers would miss, being too caught up in Gray's shrowd of cuteness. What this film does have, though, is an important message, one that was a response to the years post world war 2, and unfortunatly is fitting for the times we now live in. It is only a shame that this film couldn't make its point in a more artistic or cinematically interesting and creative fashion. 2.5
19.Hud (Martin Ritt 1963) Strong acting by Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal make this character driven film worthwhile. The film is something of a Eulogy for the west, which along with the last picture show and I don't know what else is part of the genre of post-western. 2.5 stars
20. Going to America(John Landis 1988) This Eddie Murphy comedy wasn't actually a good movie, but it had some pretty funny lines here and there that deserve to be quoted out of context. Following the classical pattern for a comedy there is a journey, a confused identity, and a marriage at the end which brings about resolution. What I don't like is that one moment in the romantic comedy where it looks like the two will not end up together, but the viewer knows they will, such as the all too cliched airport chase. Im sure at one point the viewer really went for it, but its now been done to death. Look at Roman Holliday for a variation on this, and one that allows the relationship to be that much more truthfull. The extra characters that Murphy and Arsenio Hall play make this movie fun. 2 stars
21. Garden State (Zach Braff 2004) This is a film on the verge of greatness. Braff's script is excellent and the films actors, including Braff, do it justice for the most part. The modern mellow rock soundtrack helps give the film a slightly surreal feel as does some of the over exxcesive mise en scene such as the doctors diploma or the hamsters fun house. The film displays a great deal of maturity in its balance between personal struggle, family drama, and love interest. A moving work, but not without its flaws. The character played by Natalie Portman is too incomplete, with the romance focusing too much on Braff's side of it. While the character Portman plays, despite being a liar, is an honest true character, Portman seemed unnatural in the role. She seemed like she was reading lines from the script. The only things preventing this from being a larger problem is that its a damn good script and Portman is beautiful and charming enough to make up for it. 3.5 stars
22. Collateral (Michael Mann 2004) This is a very cool movie. It's an action movie with a more sophisticated relationship between the two main characters which makes the film interesting on another level. I really liked both Cruise and Fox in their respective roles. Good to see Cruise not have to act that much; he isn't working hard in this understated performance, and thats a lot better than his usual forced acting roles. Also good too see him as a villian- he's cool enough to pull it off and were it not for his pretty boy face, it seems surprising that we havent seen him play a bad guy more often. Fox is a funny man, but his serious role here suits him well. He's contemplative and dignified. 3 stars
23. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz 1942) This is a great film. You really can't go wrong with Bergman and Bogart, although I prefered Bogart in Sierra Madre. The pacing of this film was interesting. Rather slow in developing, although by necesity, and then the last 20 minutes are faster, with the climatic culmination of excitement and emotion developed in the first hour and 20 minutes. There's no surprise in the 4 stars it earns, the only surprise is how long its taken me to see it.
24. Secret Window (David Koepp 2004) This isn't really a good film. Its a thriller, but isnt all that thrilling, with a cliche twist ending that is about as fresh as a mcdonalds salad. dont bother with this unless your a big depp or stephen king fan, but even then i dont reccomend this. 2 stars
25. Hero (Yimou Zhang, 2002) This is a film carried by its cinematography. Even the martial arts action scenes are subordinate. I like the way this is framed, but the film is too dependedent on themes and not enough on character, and there is too much blatent computer animation, which i hate. also i cant stand the way tarantino attaches his name to this flick. 3 stars.
26. the gold rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925) I don't think is as good a film as some of Chaplin's others, but it is just as delightful with ingenious gags including waltzing with a dog, and coregraphing a dance with forks stuck in dinner rolls. 4 stars.
27. Shainghai express(josef von sternberg,1932) I dont know how much I like Marlene Dietrich. She doesn't pernounce her r's which is pretty damn annoying. But the film is at times exciting, at times romantic, and the peripheral characters are accentric and memorable. Some beautiful lighting of Dietrich, but I found the superimpositions and use of dissolves abit distracting and overdone. 3 stars
28. Shrek 2 (Andrew Adamson, 2004) More cutesy feel good crap from the good folks at Pixar. My tenth grade chemistry teacher, or DocO, depending on whose reading this, single handedly ruined the first one for me. This film is just so clever in its gimmicks and gags that it is fun to watch. The story really isnt that great and the themes arent at all original. Its this parodidic humor that drives the film, along with Eddie Murphy being a genius, and one of the most underrated talents in comedy. 3 stars
29. The grudge (Takashi Shimizu, 2004) This is the worst movie I've seen in 2005. other than the ending, which is a scary little surprise, the film goes nowhere. Suspense isnt really built up, and the film doesnt get scarier and scarier as it goes on. Each scary moment is isolated which gives the film a lack of cohesion as far as pace is concerned. Furthermore, the characters arent round enough for us to feel for them, or more importantly in this context, fear for them. The sound effects or overdone, and to loud. I got tired of hearing doors creak fairly early on in the movie. The one plus was that it was only 96 minutes long-- were it a few minutes longer I would have walked out of the theatre. .5 stars
30. Rebel without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955) Tragic but tender, this is a great film. Much diferent than what I was expecting, namely a cooler, badder Dean. This film, more so than any I have seen in the recent past is honest. The characters are true real people, not ever behaving or speaking in ways that are forced, as happens all to often in character driven films. 4 stars.
31. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004) It doesn't make sense to rate movies on the same scale, because comparing this to Rebel without a cause would just be unfair. This isn't a great film, but its a great comedy. This is not to say a comedy cant be a great film. So anyway, instead of giving a star rating system im changing this to reccomend, strongly reccomend, recomend with reservations, do not see this movie, and one of the best movies ive ever seen. This one gets a strongly reccomend. Its good to see some character development in a comedy, and these two characters are surprisning round, and seem real as people. This gives the movie the ethos it needs to make it transend its gross out gags that fall short of the brilliant racial stereotyping.
i saw moulin rouge, but cant count it cause i had seen it before
32. How tasty was my Little Frenchman. (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1971) This is an interesting movie, but not all that entertaining. Its the story of a Frenchman who is held captive by a tribe of Tupi Indians, and eventually killed in a canibal ritual. The film is kind of funny, and is in the Tupi language. Theres some beautiful shots of the Brazilian Coast, and some of the indian ceremonial costumes and body paintings are really something. It's good to watch for its historical portrayal (I watched it for my history of brazil class) But I can't think of any other time in which this movie should be watched.
I saw the good the bad and the ugly again. That could be one of my favorites.
33. The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) I really Like Humphry Bogart. That being said I prefered the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, because it had more interesting characters. While Sam Spade is tougher than Frank Dobbs, and therefore more fun to see Bogart as, the other characters arent as complex, and really, as lovable as in Treasure. That being said, this plot is more intriguing. I think I'm definitly a character above plot person. I saw this in the film studies center in 35mm, which was a great experience for seeing something for the first time. Usually I dont care if I see a movie alone on my coach on a nine inch tv or in its original form in a theatre with a lot of people, but certain movies, like this one, demand to be seen on the big screen. Anyway, if I was still giving films ratings, this one would get 4, but Im not.
34. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) I saw this on my laptop, quite a contrast from MF, but Nice, nonetheless, since I could be in my bad, nice and cozy. Silent films should never be preseneted without sound. If you have the original film on film, without music, find someway to play it with sound. I dont care if that isnt authentic, movies werent designed to be shown without sound. I saw metropolis with sound, and that made the movie. It makes it stimulating. The film has a message- heart must mediate between hand and head. Notable is the way in which Lang creates a complete world. We credit Peter Jackson or something for making the world in the lord of the rings, but he is only capturing a world someone else thought up. Lang's world is his own, and it is a true achievement to create a world and not just a film.
35. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004) Really dissapointing. In my opinion the worst thing Pixar's come up with. Among other things, Im tired of superheroes, especially the neosuperhero who acknowledges that he is a superhero, and employs some self reflexivity. The greatest humor and charm in this piece comes from the family, not from that they are superheroes. The characters arent as warm and lovable as they are in toy story and finding nemo, and the conflict seems kind of pathetic and contrived. There were too many action sequences, which dont look interesting in computer animation, It looked like I was watching some bad video game. But the incredibles would be an amazing rugby team. I wanna see mr incredible as as a prop, the mom as a lock, the daughter as a scrumhalf, and the son as a winger.
36. Maria Full of Grace(Joshua Marston,2004)The issue here is interesting because its something people havent heard too much about. Theres something interesting about the mules because of this sense of unknown. Besides that, it immediatly introduces danger, which is instant tension. On top of that Catalina Sandino Moreno makes the film as Maria. Her performance is really captivating and she wins the audience. However besdides the subject matter, and the lead actress, this film has nothing to offer. The plot isnt that interesting and the shaky handheld camera gets to be annoying quickly.
And that concludes January. The best thing I saw this month was The treasure of the Sierra Madre. The worst movie I saw was the grudge. Bogart was the actor of the month. I dont think I saw any actress in more than one thing, so Im gunna give the actress of the month to Audrey Hepburn since I fell in love with her this January. Hopefully February I'll see around 15 films.