Phillydude's Movie Log - July, 2012
621 7 7.21. The Pink Panther (1963)
Watched July 1st - VUDU Streaming -
"Any more behaviour like this and I'll have your stripes."
- Inspector Jacques Clouseau
I ended June with a Blake Edward's classic and I am opening July with another one - The Pink Panther - it is the introduction of Peter Sellers' trademark character, the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The movie is about Clouseau's quest to capture the phantom, a mysterious jewel thief - the first half of the movie is a little slow, mainly because the brilliant Sellers isn't in it enough, but the second half really picks up and is as funny as any movie I've ever seen - the highlights for me were the costume party and the car chase - and I loved hearing pink panther theme music - I see why Clouseau became such an iconic character and now I want to watch the rest of the series.
2805 7.6 7.82. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Watched July 15th - Amazon Streaming -
"Just because she likes the same bizzaro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soul mate." - Rachel Hansen
After watching Enter The Void I decided to make it a '09 double feature night by watching 500 Days of Summer - mainly because a Summer that is 500 days long would be a dream come true for me - unfortunately the title refers to a person, and not a very likeable person at that, not the season - bummer. Turns out The movie was a romantic comedy that wasn't really romantic and was not very funny. What it was mostly is boring, meandering and pointless.
6644 7.7 8.23. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Watched July 17th - Amazon Streaming -
"As I lay in the back of Buck's truck, trying to will my limbs out of entropy, I could see the faces of the cunts who did this to me and the dicks responsible, members all of the deadly viper assassination squad - when fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other that not only does God exist, you're doing His will." - The Bride
I have heard a lot about the Kill Bill movies, especially since I've come to Listal, so I thought it was finally time to check them out for myself. The story is one of revenge where a bride left for dead on her wedding day, sets out to kill her attackers - it is plot that dates back to Clint Eastwood westerns, but what the movie lacks in originality, it makes up for with a great story, wall to wall action, humor, spectacular fight sequences and Quentin Tarantino's specialty - lots of graphic violence. Tarantino also put a twist on the revenge story by making the lead character female - I was a little surprised to see Uma Thurman in this kind of a role, I think of Angelina Jolie when there is a role that calls for lots of swift and blinding violence, but she handles the role very well. Some parts I did think were a bit over the top such as the 100 vs 1 sword fight - none of those gangsters thought to bring a gun to a sword fight? - and I have a few unanswered question that I assume will be answered when I watch Part 2, but while the first part of Kill Bill may be a tad over rated, It's still very entertaining and fun to watch and now I am eager to watch Part 2 next.
5394 7.5 84. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Watched July 17th - Amazon Streaming -
"I didn't say I was gonna explain myself, I said I was going to tell you the truth, but if that's too cryptic, let's get literal - I'm a killer, a murdering bastard, you know that, and there are consequences to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard - you experienced some of them - was my reaction really that surprising?" - Bill
Part 2 of Kill Bill complimented Part 1 very well, which makes sense since it was originally meant to be all one movie and watching both parts on streaming in one day it's basically how I experienced it - as one continuous story. Part 2 answered the questions I had in part one by going into depth on the character's motivations - particularly Bill's - interesting that the flashback of the attack on the chapel occurred in the second movie, but I do think it had more impact that way after seeing everything that happened in Part 1 - Part 2 doesn't have as much action as Part 1, how could it? - but what it lacks in action it more than makes up for in character development and motivations - and there are still some great fight scenes - particularly the fight between the bride and Elle in the trailer which was epic - I had to stop the movie for a couple minutes to catch my breath after that one - the final confrontation with Bill was surprisingly understated but very well done. There were no glaring flaws that I could see in Kill Bill Vol. 2 - It works as it's own movie as well as a a companion with the first one -
it's a shame they didn't put it out as one movie because taken all together Kill Bill really is a true masterpiece.
231 6.5 6.65. Albert Nobbs (2011)
Watched July 21st - Redbox DVD -
"Albert, you don't have to be anything but who you are."
- Hubert Page
It is a Redbox double feature day today and the first movie I watched was Albert Nobbs - Glenn Close was nominated for an Oscar for her role as a butler who has spent her whole life pretending to be a man and trying to save enough money to buy her own tobacco shop. Unlike other cross dressing movies I've seen like Victor/Victoria and Tootsie that are played for laughs, this movie is a drama - while it is mostly a sad and depressing one, at the same time the atmosphere of the movie along with the score gives the film a magical quality like Being There or Forrest Gump and I wish the movie had explored the magic in the story a little more and added a little humor instead of being so dour. The performances are excellent particularly by Janet McTeer and Close, who again shows why she is one of my favorite actresses - she is always compelling to watch.
793 6.9 7.26. 21 Jump Street (2012)
Watched July 21st - Redbox DVD -
"We are reviving a canceled undercover police program from the '80s and revamping it for modern times, you see the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas - so all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice."
- Deputy Chief Hardy
Part two of my Redbox double feature was 21 Jump Street.
I was not a fan of the TV show and don't remember much about it except that Johnny Depp was in it, so I wasn't really planning on seeing this movie - but then I started reading good reviews about it on Listal and decided to give it a chance, and I am glad that I did. The movie is a very clever satire on cop buddy movies and 80's teen tv shows -it is about two kids in high school, one a nerd and the other a cool kid, who both grow up to be cops and become partners and friends - they are assigned to do undercover work in a high school to bust a drug ring, but as times in high school have changed, the roles they had in high school are reversed. I was not expecting this movie to be as good or as funny as it was - I love satires when they are done right and this movie does it brilliantly, they even managed to put a spin on the standard cop car chase which was one of the highlights of the movie, and the ending, while good, didn't quite match the rest of the movie, although fans of the TV show are in for a treat, but I can overlook the small flaws because it is the funniest comedy of the year so far.
3581 6.7 7.27. A Bug's Life (1998)
Watched July 27th - Amazon Streaming - Rewatch
"They can't know the truth, The truth you see is bad, I will be branded with this mistake for the rest of my life, my children's children will walk down the street and people will point and say - Look, there goes the spawn of Flik the loser" - Flick
I didn't like A Bug's Life much the first time I watched it, but decided to give it another chance to see if my opinion had improved - and it did a little - First off when I watched it before, I didn't know that the movie was a bug version of The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven - now that I have seen those two movies, the whole concept of this movie was more amusing - but while I liked the story and the grasshoppers made good villains - the characters weren't engaging enough and the writing wasn't funny enough for me and I also didn't think the animation was as good as its been in other Pixar movies - so while my opinion of it has risen, I still can't rank it among my favorite animated films.
552 7.2 7.28. The Muppets (2011)
Watched July 28th - Amazon Streaming - Rewatch
"As long as there are singing frogs and joking bears, Swedish chefs and boomerang fish, the world can’t be such a bad of a place after all and as long as there are Muppets, for me, there's still hope." - Walter
Closed out my Birthday by watching my favorite movie of 2011 - The Muppets - Probably one of the happiest movies I have ever seen, I was smiling the whole way through it - love the music, the sentiment and the humor - plus it had a good story and great cameos - I agree with Walter, as long as there are Muppets, the world doesn't seem like such a bad place - it is was a fun way to end a very nice Birthday.
39 7.9 7.29. My Favorite Year (1982)
Watched July 31st - TCM - Rewatch
"Whoever you were in those movies, those silly goddamn heroes meant a lot to me, what does it matter if it was an illusion? - it worked - so don't tell me this is you life size,
I can't use you life size, I need Alan Swanns as big as I can get them - and let me tell you something - you couldn't have convinced me the way you did unless somewhere in you, you had that courage - nobody's that good an actor - you are that silly goddamn hero!" - Benjy Stone
As usual I am closing out the month with a favorite from 1982 - this month it is My Favorite Year - It is the movie that introduced me to the brilliance of Peter O'Toole - he is outstanding and was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the swash buckling washed up movie star Alan Swann who is guest starring in a TV sketch comedy show in the 50's - he is hysterically funny and also touching at times and it remains my favorite of his performances - the rest of the cast is great as well including Mark Linn-Baker as the young writer on the show who is assigned to look after Swan to make sure he doesn't get into trouble, and Joseph Bologna as the star of the show. As many times as I have watched this movie I had no idea until now that it was produced by Mel Brooks or that it was based on Brooks' experiences with Errol Flynn when he worked on Sid Caeser's TV show in the 50's. There are many funny moments and lines in the movie and the ending gets a standing ovation from me every time - it is one of the best movies from My favorite year - 1982.
The Summer Of '82
510 7.5 7.410. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
Release Date - July 2nd, 1982
Watched July 2nd - Amazon Streaming -
"Courage of the heart is very rare, the stone has a power when it's there." - Nicodemus
I have always thought the 80's were the greatest movie decade of all time - it had great classic movies in every genre, the one weak spot it had were animated movies, with the exception of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I didn't think the 80's produced any great animated movies, but I hadn't seen The Secret Of NIMH up till now, The story is about a mouse who has to move her house in an effort to save her family, so she enlists the help of a community of rats with human intelligence, sort of like a Planet Of The Rats. I liked the story, although I wish there had been a bit more to it than moving a house, the first part moved a little slowly and I could have done without the crow, I always found Dom DeLuise more annoying than funny, but when the action moves to the rat communtiy the story picks up and really gets interesting and fun to watch - I liked Nicodemus as the wise old sage rat, and Jenner was a great villanous rat bastard - so while I wouldn't classify NIHM as great animated movie, it was a good one, and was worthy of being the animated movie entry in the Summer of '82.
967 6.6 6.711. TRON (1982)
Release Date - July 9th, 1982
Watched July 10th - Amazon Streaming - Rewatch
"Commander, you've enjoyed all the power you've been given, haven't you? - I wonder how you'd take to working in a pocket calculator." - Master Control Program
I missed watching Tron on its 30th anniversary by a day because I was returning home from my vacation yesterday. I didn't mind putting it off though because it was one 1982 movie that I really wasn't looking forward to watching again, I remember thinking back then that the movie was incomprehensible, indecipherable high tech gobbledegook, and now seeing it again 30 years later, my opinion hasn't changed much, I may have even liked it less because the computer special effects that I thought were the best part of the movie back in 1982, looked a little dated and cheesy now - especially compared to what Lucas and Spielberg were doing back in the 80's - I do think that the movie was way ahead of its time when it came to computer graphics and programs, but aside from that I thought it was one of the few clunkers to come out of the Summer of '82, but I will bet that at least my computer enjoyed watching Tron.
251 6.6 6.612. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
Release date - July 16th, 1982
Watched July 16th - VUDU Streaming -
"He's a wonderful guy and a terrific doctor - never lost a patient, got a couple of them pregnant, but never lost one." - Andrew
A Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy was Woody Allen's entry for the Summer of '82. I had heard of it but never seen it before and didn't even realize it was a 1982 movie until I looked it up. I can see why this movie wasn't very high on my radar as it is not one of Woody Allen's better efforts, although it his first film with Mia Farrow in it. The cast is great and the acting is fine - the problem was, despite the title, the movie had the same flaws as 500 days of Summer which I watched last night - it wasn't very funny and wasn't very romantic - two things I do kind of expect to see in a romantic comedy - and the sharp cynical sardonic wit that Allen shows in other movies only shows itself occasionally in this film, the movie isn't horrible, although the ending was pretty bad, it is just mediocre as far as Allen films go and it's one of the forgettable movies in the Summer of '82.
31 6 4.413. Zapped! (1982)
Release date - July 23rd, 1982
Watched July 23rd - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"Barn, sometimes life is like an onion - when you peal it,
it makes you cry." - Peyton Nichols
Having a triple feature of '82 movies today as there were three good ones released on this date. The first one I watched was Zapped - I was a little surprised it was a July release, I remember seeing it in late Summer, and it is the kind of movie that I would expect to be released in the last two week of August dumping grounds for Summer leftovers - it actually has a score of 0 on Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is a bit harsh, but I understand why critics hated it - it is a pretty stupid movie - at the same time I understand why it is still around after 30 years - it's also an enjoyable movie - It is about a high school student who develops telekinetic powers after a lab accident - instead of finding productive ways to use the power though, he and his friend use it for things like winning baseball games, gambling and popping open girls' blouses - in the hands of other actors this might have gotten old quickly - but Scott Baio and Willie Aames bring a charm and likeability to their roles - they were having fum, so I had fun watching them - The movie doesn't take itself to seriously, it knows it is just a silly lightweight comedy and there are a couple goofy parodies of The Exorcist and Carrie that are pretty funny - so while Zapped is not the best movie - it isn't the worst either - I would call it my guilty pleasure movie of '82.
82 5.9 5.514. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)
Release date - July 23rd, 1982
Watched July 23rd - Amazon Streaming -
"Oh, Fred, you mean to tell me you don't think the cows don't appreciate the time off when a bull goes over to another pasture?" - Mona Stangley
The second movie in my triple feature was The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. The Movie is musical comedy about a bordello in a small Texas town called the Chicken Ranch which has become an institution - but its existence is threatened by a crusading consumer advocate. Dolly Parton plays the Madam who runs the ranch and has a relationship with the town sheriff who is trying to protect it, played by Burt Reynolds. For a movie about a Whorehouse there is surprisingly little sex in the movie, but I did like the chemistry between Reynolds and Parton - it ranks as one of my favorite performances by both of them, I especially enjoyed Reynold's character giving one of the all time epic rants to the consumer advocate, played nicely by Dom DeLuise - The rest of the cast including Jim Nabors and Charles Durning are good as well, the songs are rousing and entertaining - my favorite being Parton singing 'I Will Always Love You' - I had wondered where her version of the song came from - and I also loved the ending - I wasn't sure about this movie but it turned out to be a lot of fun and instantly becomes one of my favorite movies of 1982.
234 6.6 715. The World According to Garp (1982)
Release date - July 23rd, 1982
Watched July 23rd - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"You know, everybody dies - my parents died, your father died, everybody dies, I'm going to die too, so will you -
the thing is to have a life before we die, it can be a real adventure having a life." - Jenny Fields
Closing out my triple feature with one of my all time favorite movies - The World According to Garp - for some reason I thought it was released in the fall because it seems more like an Oscar type movie than a summer blockbuster, but it did make nice counter programming being released during the summer against all the comedies, action and scifi movies - I miss when studios used to do that. The movie tells the story of the life of T.S. Garp from growing up with his lust obsessed Mother, I have to wonder what Jenny Fields would have thought of the last movie I watched, to his becoming a writer only to become eclipsed by his Mother's best seller, to his getting married and starting his own family. The story is funny, sad, and at times tragic - all of the characters have flaws which make them human and all the more compelling to watch - Robin Williams is brilliant as Garp, it is my favorite performance of his - Glenn Close is also terrific in her first movie and John Lithgow gives one of his best performances as Garp's transsexual friend - The movie makes me laugh and cry as much as it did 30 years ago, and as many tragedies as there are in the movie it still manages to be life affirming.
This month I will be watching six films from three different countries.
869 8.4 8.416. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Watched July 10th - Netflix DVD -
"I've been cursed since the day I was born." - Antonio Ricci
My first selection is the Italian classic - The Bicycle Theif. I had heard of it before but never seen it. The story is about an unemployed nearly detitute father who gets a job that requires a bike, and after he finally buys one, it ends up getting stolen, so he and his son set out to search for it. I liked the story, there are a lot of of lessons in it, mostly about what not to do in a given situation, especially when your kid is with you (Antonio could earn a spot on my worst fathers list) I was entertained by the movie even though the story was straightforward and didn't have a whole lot of action. My major complaint was the ending, the movie was so sad that I needed something at the end and got Niente. The moral of the story is - if a bicycle is that vital to you, buy a good bike lock or get a faster pair of running shoes.
2489 8.1 8.517. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Watched July 14th - the giraffe's DVD collection - Rewatch
"This is a simple story, but not an easy one to tell - like a fable there is sorrow and like a fable it is full of wonder and happiness." - Giosué Orefice
Part two of my Italian double feature is a modern classic - Life Is Beautiful, about a father who goes to great lengths in order to shield his son from the horrors of the Holocaust by turning it into a game where the first prize is a tank. It is an odd movie in that the first part is a romantic comedy which is both funny and sweet, and then, just as the couple finds happiness, it rather abruptly turns into a movie about the Holocaust when the family gets carted off to a concentration camp - even though what is going on around them is horrific, the movie maintains its humor through the game the Father invents to protect and shield his son - however even while playing the game, you can see the fear behind the Father's eyes - It is a delicate tightrope to walk making a comedy with this subject matter, but Roberto Benigni does it brilliantly both as an actor and director - Life is Beautiful is funny, sad, tragic, heart warming and finally uplifting and inspiring - I didn't give the film its full due the first time I watched it - it is a wonderful movie.
873 8.3 8.118. The 400 Blows (1959)
Watched July 24th - Netflix DVD -
"Oh, I lie now and then I suppose - sometimes I'd tell them the truth and they still wouldn't believe me, so I prefer to lie." - Antoine Doinel
The first movie in my French double feature was The 400 Blows, about a rebellious but mostly misunderstood youth who through a series of misunderstandings and bad judgment calls sinks deeper and deeper into trouble. Not a lot happens in the first part of the movie, it actually plays like the after school specials I used to watch when I was a kid, The parents and the teacher were just awful in the way they treated Antoine - giving him punishments that far exceeded the offenses - I mean geez, nobody sent Ferris Bueller to reform school. The final segment reminded me of Sleepers - where one bad error in judgment leads to a word of trouble - even though I didn't think what Antoine did compared to what the kids in Sleepers did that got them sent away - it seemed rather trivial compared to the effects - his parents were just self centered and heartless - I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop in this movie, for there to be more to it than it appeared - but in the end it turned out to be a somewhat interesting movie but also unremarkable.
4474 8.1 8.519. Amélie (2001)
Watched July 26th - the giraffe's DVD collection -
1st Viewing - Rewatched on July 27th
"Life's funny, to a kid time always drags - suddenly you're fifty and all that's left of your childhood fits in a rusty little box." - Dominique Bretodeau
I watched Amelie twice because it kind of lost me after the first half hour on my first viewing, so I read up on the movie and a little bit about French movies in general - lots of interesting and, um, colorful opinions to be found on French movies around the internet - then I watched it again - I understood it better the second time and discovered the point where I got lost on my first viewing. I really enjoyed the first half hour of the movie - Amelie finding the box and returning it to the owner was good stuff, I wish that part of the movie had lasted longer. The rest of the movie I didn't think was as strong - I didn't think the secondary characters were developed real well and the romance between Amelie and the photo guy was sweet in spots but it never really grabbed me to the point that I cared much about what happen with them - I did like the adventure of the garden gnome - that was cute - and the gaslighting of the bully of a grocer was funny, but to me it seemed like the movie lost direction after the first half hour. If the first two French movies I have seen are any indication, maybe they are just constructed differently than American movies are - so it might just take me a while to get used to watching them.
356 7.3 7.320. The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)
Watched July 28th - Netflix DVD -
"I'll show you who's the best and who's the legend, I'll prove it once and for all - don't die till then and be sure to watch." - Park Chang-yi
Wasn't sure what to expect from a Korean western - I knew The Good, The Bad and The Weird was based on the Clint Eastwood classic The Good The Bad and The Ugly, however I thought it was going to be some kind of campy parody - instead, it is an homage to the spaghetti westerns of the 60's and a thrilling shoot em up western. It involves a chase for a map that leads to a treasure buried somewhere in Manchuria and the various nefarious characters who are going after it. The characters of the good, the bad and the weird each fit their roles well - Park Chang-yi was down right ruthless as the bad and might become the first foreign film character to get a place on my favorite villains list - Yoon Tae-goo added the comic relief as the weird and Park Do-won was Clintesque as the good - The action is non stop and at times I thought it was even better than The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, as there are no pauses to fight the civil war - although the Japanese army does get involved which leads into a terrific chase scene - The ending echoed the original but put its own twist on it which was clever - The Good, The Bad and The Weird was a really fun movie and instantly becomes one of my all time favorite westerns.
2344 8.2 8.421. Oldboy (2003)
Watched July 30th - the giraffe's DVD collection -
1st Viewing - Rewatched on July 31st
"Your gravest mistake wasn't failing to find the answer -
if you keep asking the wrong questions, you'll never find the right answer." - Woo-jin Lee
I watched Lady Vengeance earlier this year and liked it a lot, and I was anxious to see the other two movies in the Vengeance trilogy, so am glad that the giraffe gave me the chance to see Oldboy - I had to watch the movie twice to grasp the complexity of everything that happened - the story involves a man who is held captive for 15 years and after his release, he sets out to find his captures to exact vengeance. It is actually a double revenge story with multiple layers to sift through - the story was excellent,
I only wish some of the gratuitous violence had been cut in favor of more character and story development particularly in the beginning part of the movie - because the story and the characters were so fascinating, that the violence wasn't needed or even necessary at times - the ending was epic, but really by giving such an gut wrenching reaction to the reveal - the guy was giving his captor exactly the reaction he was hoping for, he should have dialed it back a tad, at least the scissors part. While I still liked Lady Vengeance better as a complete movie - Oldboy was more twisted, in fact it is one of the most warped and twisted movies I've ever seen, it will stay with you after you finish watching it.
543 7.5 7.122. Enter the Void (2009)
Watched July 15th - jaytoast's DVD collection -
"Do you remember that pact we made? - we promised to never leave each other." - Oscar
Enter The Void was a real metaphysical roller coaster ride, the type of movie I would expect to come out in 1969 at the height of the sex, drugs and rock & roll era, rather than in 2009. It was a very strange, trippy movie and my feelings about it were also on a roller coaster ride - the opening credits were about as annoying as any I've ever seen and I began to wonder what I was in for, a feeling that wasn't helped by the first twenty minutes which I also thought were annoying with the first person view and strange camera angles, but then after Oscar meets his demise and the story shifted to a look back at Oscar's life and his relationship with his sister, I started to get into the flow of the movie and enjoying the ride, but then it started to lose me again in the last hour - and in particular the last 20 minutes were just plain bizarre - but the ending brought it back up again, that is if I interpreted the ending correctly and Linda's baby was the reincarnated Oscar - I have always been intrigued by the the idea of reincarnation, and once I understood what all the flying around and into things meant, I was intrigued by the movie's interpretation of it, because if i were to die I would like to fly around, over and into things like Oscar was doing, my destinations would be decidedly less kinky and strange than his were, but it would still be fun - of course if my interpretation of the ending is wrong, then I am not quite sure what the movie was trying to say or what the point of the whole thing was - I am giving Enter The Void seven stars because my opinion could go either way on a second viewing and I would be willing to watch it again in the future because as annoying as the movie got in parts, and it came perilously close to Tree of life territory at times, it was also a completely mesmerizing film that I never became bored with and the movie also showed again how well the movie exchange program works, because I never would have watched this movie on my own.
451 7.3 7.823. The Experiment (2001)
Watched July 29th - jaytoast's DVD collection -
"I don't believe in coincidences, nothing just happens in life, even the worst things somehow make sense."
- Tarek Fahd
The Experiment is a disturbing movie about a group of scientists who conduct an experiment where a group of test subjects are divided into two groups - one prison inmates and the other prison guards and they have to live with each other for two weeks, when those who make it through will be paid a sum of money - sounds simple enough right? - just co-operate with each other, go with the flow and in two weeks you will all be a little richer - but Nooo - things quickly start to disintegrate between the guards and the inmates, instigated by one of the inmates secretly being an undercover reporter - the scientists start to loose control of their experiment as the guards become increasing brutal and sadistic - the movie has an unsettling subtext about what people are capable of given the right circumstances, even more so being it is a German made film, and it's based on a true story which makes it all the more disturbing the ending was frightening and had me sitting up screaming at my TV - at the end, after I caught my breath, I wanted to knock all of the characters heads together for being such complete idiots - I think it is safe to say they didn't come away with their money - The Experiment was an engrossing movie and one I don't think I'll be forgetting anytime soon.
To coincide with my foreign film focus this month,
my three horror selections will be Japanese horror movies.
791 6.8 7.324. Ringu (1998)
Watched July 12th - Netflix DVD -
"This kind of thing, it doesn't start by one person telling a story - it's more like everyone's fear just takes on a life of its own." - Ryuji Takayama
The Ring was one of the scariest movies I ever saw - there's something very unsettling about a phone call saying that in seven days you will die and even more so, a rotting corpses crawling out of your TV set - but I did want to see how the story originated and I needed more 1998 movies for my tops of '98 list, so I decided to make Ringu my first horror selection of the month. The story in the original is still creepy and unnerving, however I thought the US version was much more scarier and while the basic events around the mysterious tape are the same, the US version told the story in a more effective manner that kept me on the edge of my seat, while the pacing in the original was so slow that it almost put me to sleep. The back story concerning how the tape came to be and who the girl was, was more interesting in the US version and made the climatic scene all the more terrifying, while it kind of fell flat in the original - I also thought the ending was better in the US version. Maybe I would have liked Ringu more if I had seen it first, but having seen The Ring first, I think this is a case of the remake being better than the original - Still wouldn't add either version to my DVD collection - I don't want to take the chance of anything crawling out of my TV.
65 7 6.425. Mothra (1961)
Watched July 18th - Netflix DVD -
"For us to be saved, innocent people in your country will suffer a great misfortune - Mothra will come, Mothra is coming to save us." - Small Beauties
I am watching a Japanese horror film creature double feature today - The first film was Mothra - This movie intrigued me because I couldn't imagine a movie featuring a killer Moth - so I had to check it out - and despite it's rather ridiculous premise, it turned out to be a pretty good movie - it owes a lot to King Kong - with a visit to a strange Island, greedy capitalists who want to exploit the Island and make money off the strange creatures found there and finally a huge monster that has a crush on two tiny attractive women - I liked the story, it was well written and well acted and I liked the under lying themes about greed, the dangers of atomic energy, and leaving ancient cultures alone instead of exploiting them - the effects are pretty cheesy even by old Japanese horror movie standards - but a giant 100 foot caterpillar devouring Tokyo isn't something you see every day - I could have done without the religious overtones in the ending - it didn't make much sense to me that a large flying insect would care much about religious symbolism - but for the most part it is a fun and entertaining movie - next time though, instead of using laser cannons and jet fighters to fight Mothra - they should try a big can of Raid.
331 7.1 7.326. Godzilla (1954)
Watched July 18th - Netflix DVD -
"This is unbelievable, absolutely unbelivable, yet the unbelievable is happening at this moment right before our eyes - right now Godzilla is leaving behind a sea of flame." - Reporter
Part two of my creature double feature was the mother of all monster movies - Godzilla - and right from the start a 400 foot Jurassic dinosaur with atomic breath made for a much more formidable monster than the 100 foot larva in the last movie, although I do admit there is something to be said for Mothra's unabashed cheesiness, Godzilla was a more sedate, thoughtful movie with serious underlying themes about the atomic age - I think the debate on whether to use the 'oxygen device' was a pretty clear metaphor for the use of the atomic bomb on Japan less than a decade earlier, which took some guts for the makers of the movie to do - but looking past all the subtext of the movie It succeeds mostly as a awesome monster movie - Godzilla is a kick ass monster and all the scenes of his attacks on various cities and towns were terrific. The only flaw I had found with the movie was the romantic subplot - I thought the girl was annoying and was kind of hoping Godzilla would call her lunch - apart from that I enjoyed seeing how the legend of Godzilla and its many sequels was born - the movie is called a classic and deservedly so.
986 7.2 7.227. Brave (2012)
Watched July 7th - Boston, MA - 2:40 - Movie Theater - 1st Viewing
"There comes a day when I don't have to be a Princess, no rules, no expectations - A day where anything can happen, a day where I can change my fate." - Princess Merida
My brother's family wanted to see Brave while I was on my vacation, so I went along not really knowing much about it except it was made by Pixar and had archery in it. The story is about a princess battling her controlling mother and then accidentally turning her mother into a bear - giving a whole new meaning to the term Mamma Bear - it is cute and at times very funny - especially the princess' three brothers who could give Bart Simpson a run for his money when it comes to mischeif, and I liked how the feuding mother and daughter have to learn to work together and how they wound up learning something about each other along the way - There are some touching moments, particularly the ending, the animation is of course exquisite and on the whole it is a nice, harmless summer movie - I just didn't think the story was as strong as previous Pixar efforts.
1367 6.9 7.228. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Watched July 11th - 1:40PM - Movie Theater -
"We all have secrets - the ones we keep and the ones that are kept from us." - Peter Parker
It has been 10 years since the original Spider-man movie and only 5 since the last one, so I didn't really see a need for a reboot of the franchise and went into The Amazing Spider-man fully expecting to hate it - but to my surprise it is actually a pretty good movie and if the original trilogy didn't exist I would probably have liked it even more - but the originals do exist so I couldn't help but compare them while watching the movie - The most important part, the casting of Spider-man, they got right - Tobey Maguire was better than Andrew Garfield, but it is reasonably close and Garfield holds his own throughout the movie - I had no trouble believing he was Spider-man. The rest of the cast I didn't think it was that close - Aunt May and Uncle Ben were done better in the original - Sally Field in particular was almost completely wasted as May and I liked the way Uncle Ben's fate unfolded much better in the original. I thought Gwen was a poor substitute for Mary Jane - the romance between Gwen and Peter was cute, but had none of the sparkling chemistry Maguire and Kristen Dunst had - but the biggest difference between the movies was the character of Harry was absent - the Harry/Mary Jane/Peter dynamic was the heart of the original trilogy - in the new movie he doesn't exist at all which was disappointing - I guess they wanted to go in their own direction for the reboot, but the movie didn't feel the same without Harry. What saves the movie is the performance of Garfield as Spidey and The Lizard being a kick ass Villain - the action sequences in this movie are well done, even breathtaking at times and the story is fast paced, it moved so quickly that I didn't even notice its over 2 hour length - The Amazing Spider-man is a little darker in tone than the original and it wont make anybody forget the original trilogy - but it was fun, exciting and as summertime popcorn entertainment -
I thought that the movie succeeded surprisingly well.
1031 6.5 7.129. Ted (2012)
Watched July 16th - 2:55PM - Movie Theater -
"I think back to that Christmas morning and I wish I'd just gotten a Teddy Ruxpin." - John Bennett
Ted wasn't on my radar at all as a movie to see when the summer began, but after its box office success It looked to be the surprise comedy hit of the summer like The Hangover was a few years ago, so I wanted to check it out - It is not as good as The Hangover was, but it is still a pretty funny movie that succeeds when it could have easily become the Howard the Duck of the new Millenium. The movie is about a boy who makes a Christmas wish that his Teddy Bear comes to life and when the wish is granted, the bear becomes a celebrity and they end up growing up together - first off despite how it sounds, this is not a kids movie, it has a well earned R rating - the humor is low brow, raunchy and sophomoric, but also very funny, not all the jokes work, but enough of them do that I was laughing throughout the movie and I liked the various nods to other movies such as Airplane - I would think it would be impossible to parody a scene from the funniest parody of all time, but somehow they managed to do it. Seth McFarland is the director and the voice of Ted, so there is a lot of Family Guy type humor in it which was fine with me since I love that show. I had my doubts going into this movie, but it really works and is a clever idea - makes me wonder how E.T. and Elliot would have turned out if they had grown up together - I certainly don't think they would've ended up smoking bongs, but then E.T. did like his beer - Ted is the comedy of the Summer.
2234 8 8.630. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Watched July 25th - 2:15PM - Movie Theater -
"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne - you and your friends better batten down the hatches because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." - Selina Kyle
I had my doubts about The Dark Knight Rises, whether it could reach the level of The Dark Knight, mainly because I thought given all the great villains in the Batman canon, Bane was a rather obscure one to end the trilogy on - but while he was no match for Heath Ledger's Joker - it turned out he was a great choice - comparing the two movies I would say that while The Dark Knight is still the better all around movie - there were parts of The Dark Knigth Rises I liked better - chiefly the symmetry of it and how everything came together in the end, sort of like Empire Strikes Back being the best Star Wars movie, but Jedi being the movie that brings everything together - The action and special effects are superlative, as they were in all three of Nolan's trilogy and the ending was as rousing and exciting as The Dark Knight's, maybe even more so - there were a couple points in the movie where I thought it was going to go off track, chiefly I wasn't sure what the point of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character was, but that also all came together in the end - and as much as I liked Bane, my award for best newcomer in this movie would have to go to Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman - her frenemy partnership with Bruce/Batman was my favorite part of the movie and rang true for all the other incarnations of Catwoman I've seen over the years - Hathaway brought sex appeal, humor, spirit and a certain amount of bad assery to the role that was fun to watch, to the extent that I missed her when she wasn't on screen. The movie is fast paced and so much fun that I hardly noticed the almost three hour length, in fact, in the end it definitely left me wanting more, but if this is to be the last of the Batman movies, then I don't know how the story could have wrapped up any more perfectly - I loved it - The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers are now neck and neck as far as which one is my favorite movie of the year.
282 5.1 5.731. The Watch (2012)
Watched July 31st - 2:30PM - Movie Theater -
"Look at him and understand me, look at both of us but understand no one, listen to my words and hear his face."
It is almost August - so it is time for the late summer movies to come out, which means dopey comedies like The Watch - about a man who organizes a neighborhood watch after a murder in the store he works in - this movie could have had something useful to say about the concept of neighborhood watch programs, but instead, it quickly dissolves into a alien movie with lots of bodily function jokes - I liked the alien part of the movie, but even then it pulls its punches in favor of sight gags or one liners - The Watch is a movie that has trouble making up its mind what it wants to be, there are elements of comedy, drama, sci-fi, and even horror - but it never all comes together, so it ends up being nothing but a somewhat amusing but mediocre comedy, which is a shame because I liked the cast and if the writing and directing had been stronger and had more faith in their own material they could have had something special with this movie, rather than this forgettable one.
Movies watched from my own DVD collection - I'm taking a page out of one of the movies I watched this month and making a goal of watching all of the movies in my DVD collection in the next 500 days with an end date of New Years Eve 2013 (which is 530 days to be exact)
168 6.5 6.432. 9 to 5 (1980)
Watched July 19th - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"Look, I've got a gun out there in my purse and up until now I've been forgivin' and forgettin' because of the way I was brought up, but I'll tell you one thing - if you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I'm gonna get that gun of mine, and I'm gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!" - Doralee Rhodes
9 to 5 was the fantasy movie for anybody with a 9-5 job and a tyrannical boss. It is about three working women who are tormented by their 'sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot' of a boss and dream of ways of getting rid of him - when one of them thinks she has actually done it, well, things get complicated. It is a very funny comedy starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton when they were at the height of their stardom - watching them was a lot of fun as they have effortless screen chemistry together. Recently there was a male version of the idea called Horrible Bosses which I liked, but 9 to 5 is my favorite horrible boss movie.
110 6.4 6.533. All of Me (1984)
Watched July 19th - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"I'm sorry if I made your being dead an unpleasant experience." - Roger Cobb
Decided to make it a Lily Tomlin double feature night by watching All Of Me - a funny, amiable, charming comedy about a man forced to share his body with the soul of a recently deceased millionaire after a botched attempt to get herself a new life. Steve Martin stars and is brilliant, he really shows off his gift for physical comedy - this was the start of the Martin era where he left behind the wild and crazy guy schtick and started making easy going feel good comedies, and the term feel good movie was invented for movies like All Of Me - As funny as it is, I always feel good after watching it and the ending chokes me up every time.
5960 8.4 934. The Dark Knight (2008)
Watched July 24th - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money - they can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with, some men just want to watch the world burn."
- Alfred Pennyworth
Warmed up for watching The Dark Knight Rises tomorrow by watching The Dark Knight again - for my money, one of the best action movies of all time and maybe the best comic book movie ever, although I did love The Avengers this year too, so it is close - I did have questions about the ending when I first watched the movie and I had the same questions watching it again, I didn't think Batman needed to do what he did especially given how most people already feel about politicians anyway - but it did set up everything nicely for the conclusion of the story, I just hope it is as spectacular as The Dark Knight was - it's a pretty high bar.
5935 7.5 8.335. Batman Begins (2005)
Watched July 25th - My DVD collection - Rewatch
"Your real face is the one that criminals now fear - the man I loved, the man who vanished, he never came back at all - but maybe he's still out there, somewhere, maybe someday when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I'll see him again."
- Rachel Dawes
After seeing The Dark Knight Rises today I just had to finish the trilogy by going back to the beginning and watching Batman Begins. It may not be quite as exciting as the following two movies - I'd rank them 2-3-1 just like the original Star Wars trilogy - and it might have one to many villains which causes the movie to be a little unfocused at times, but Christian Bale showed he had what it took to be the new Batman and Liam Neeson was excellent - I liked how he started out like he was going to be some kind of Jedi master for Bruce, and then turned into something completely different - but most importantly, Batman Begins holds up well as an excellent origins story for the reboot.
Totals For The Month
July was an excellent movie month with 8 first time movies that I ranked 9 or 10 stars and just 2 movies that I ranked below 5 stars. My foreign language film focus worked out well, and I thank the giraffe for helping with that, I saw some true classics and I ended up watching 10 foreign films, which is twice as many as I watched in my entire life before 2012 - it has been fun discovering so many classic films for the first time. My focus on the movie theater also worked out well as I saw 5 movies ranging from the excellent Dark Knight Rises, my movie of the month, to the mediocre The Watch - but it is always fun to get out to the theater, especially in the summertime, so I hope I can get out just as much next month. I enjoyed watching the last two of jaytoast's movies for the movie exchange which completed the first round, and round 2 starts next month with movies from Xanadon't's collection. On to August and the last days of Summer - it goes by quicker every year.
1798 7 7.536. Total Recall (1990)
Total Movies Watched
35 Movies Watched
24 First Time Viewings
8 - Amazon Streaming
6 - My Own DVD collection
6 - Netflix DVD
5 - Movie Theater
3 - the giraffe's DVD collection
2 - jaytoast's DVD collection
2 - Redbox DVD
2 - VUDU Streaming
1 - TCM
10 Stars - 12
The Dark Knight Rises(1st Viewing)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2(1st Viewing)
The Experiment(1st Viewing)
The Good, The Bad and The Weird(1st Viewing)
My Favorite Year(Rewatch)
The World According To Garp(Rewatch)
9 To 5(Rewatch)
All Of Me(Rewatch)
The Dark Knight(Rewatch)
Life Is Beautiful(Rewatch)
9 Stars - 4
Kill Bill: Vol. 1(1st Viewing)
21 Jump Street(1st Viewing)
8 Stars - 4
The Amazing Spider-Man(1st Viewing)
The Pink Panther(1st Viewing)
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas(1st Viewing)
7 Stars - 5
The Bicycle Thief (1st Viewing)
Enter The Void(1st Viewing)
The Secret Of NIHM(1st Viewing)
Albert Nobbs(1st Viewing)
6 Stars - 6
400 Blows(1st Viewing)
Brave (1st Viewing)
A Bug's Life(Rewatch)
5 Stars - 2
The Watch (1st Viewing)
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1st Viewing)
4 Stars - 1
500 Days Of Summer(1st Viewing)
3 Stars - 1
Movie of The Month - Best movie I saw for the first time
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
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