Cinema Diary - Vol 4 E4 - May & June 2013
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Well, seems that the Summer Solstice marks a good time to review my year to date. It is also a good time to look at the films watched and my goals for the year.
~ Five by Five Film Group ~
11 watched 25 total
~ New York Times Best Films ~
331 watched 1002 total
~ Cannes Palme d'or ~
27 watched 86 total
~ Academy Award Best Pictures ~
42 watched 85 total
~ Every Film That Has Won An Oscar ~
287 watched 1210 total
~ AFI's 100 years... 100 movies ~
66 watched 100 total
~ Criterion Collection ~
136 watched 780 total
Not too bad and aside from a few 'spaced out' months I have been devouring quite a number of films. July will be catching up with Five by Five and trying to watch a few more Westerns. August is fair game since I'll be on vacation leaving only four months to see how far I can get with a few of the AFI films.
While some of my numbers might seem low.. pretty happy with them so far. I do watch TONS of garbage as well as 'to watch films'. Also, these are iCheck numbers and I don't check things off that I want to watch again leaving my numbers always a little on the low side.
So... happy mid-year and hope to discover a few new gems in the coming months. ~ Cheers ~
The Purge (2013)
First, the bad news... this isn't as good as Ethan Hawke in "Daybreakers" also from a purely 'horror film' perspective it isn't the best. There are a few too many over used horror tactics and aspects that were predictable.
The 'subtext' in this film is front and center in this film. So, much so that it would be difficult to call it 'subtext' and more 'in your face social commentary'. Still, that is what I liked about the film. The sci-fi comedy film "Iron Sky" made a very weak effort at laughing at American Politics where "The Purge" uses actually issues and current social/political trends to create a story and paint a possible future.
There are many aspects to the story that I certainly loved... how those elements came together was... less then 'horrifying'. Still, a rather chilling film and one that has actual intelligence and insight into growing American social trends..
So, yep... this was a worth a trip to the theater :)
Slap Shot (1977)
Mildly funny but highly entertaining sports film. The story of turning a sport into a theater experience seems to get lost but makes a nice comeback by the end. Some great performances and great characters this one is worth watching.
Men with Brooms (2002)
Slaps Shot was followed up by this little off-beat film about a Canadian curling team. It was fun and I enjoyed the characters... not sure I would recommend outside the need to find a 'filler' film for a sport related movie marathon.
The Sweatbox (2002)
It was very interesting to watch how a Disney film gets made and then actually watch the finial result. There were a lot of great and interesting aspects created in production that were cut from the finial film. Of course watching how these films get made it isn't surprising that Disney keeps turning out bland empty content in a snazzy and easy to consume package.
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
I didn't feel overly impressed with the story, still it had some high points. Really, it was how the story was told. There are a few things that sort of nagged at me about how the story could have expressed a few things better. Still, a very excellent atmospheric horror film with luscious cinematography.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
There are similarities between "Stoker" and "Shadow of a Doubt" it is not a remake... still I wanted to rewatch the film to refresh my memories of the niece and uncle.
I have to say this is a rather dark film and was surprised that there wasn't more protest over Young Charlie's actions.
It was great to watch the two films close together with their similarities of story and cinematography.
The Details (2016)
The film is very similar to a few of my other favorite black comedies. Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks are great in this film, so while there may not have been many 'laugh out loud' moments it was fun to watch and will remain close to being a favorite... just not quite there.
Upside Down (2012)
OK, to be fair this is a pretty empty film. You aren't going to find the meaning of life or learn some deeper appreciation for gravity just because you watched this film.
It is however a truly beautiful film. It was almost a shame to watch it on dvd. So, while there may be flaws in the story the film managed to entertain from start to finish. Romantic eye candy for the attention deficit impaired... and I mean that in a good way.
Buffalo '66 (1998)
Lets look like we like each other and 'span' time and do not touch me.
It was nice to watch a film that uses a gritty low quality look as an aspect that enhances the film. There are some great cinematic moments... I love the photo-booth scene and Christina Ricci's seductive tap dance was bizarre yet... like the film very tender.
Ah, and yes... this is one that 'the giraffe' recommended 'a long time ago' and just now watching. So... yay! I'm always thankful for any film recommendations... I'm just a little slow to watch ;)
The Guilt Trip (2012)
Yep, I actually liked this strange film. The one thing that I didn't like and the one thing that kept annoying me through the whole film was the stupid title "The Guilt Trip"... there was guilt and they did take a road trip but... it is just such a poorly chosen title for an emotional journey.
The Lovely Bones (2009)
This isn't the first film that I have watched about a dead person waiting for their killer to be caught. I have to say this was one of the more unusual ones. It was beautiful, sweet and poetic... however it was also very dark and disturbing. I'm not quite sure how that sits with me mainly because I walked into the film not expecting a very beautiful version of "Silence of the Lambs".
Jack The Giant Slayer (2013)
This film is pure fluffy entertainment. It was cute and entertaining. I liked how the story was handled... could have used a bit more references to the fairy tale. Still as far as Fairy Tales to Films go this was pretty fun.
Don't watch if your looking for something dark or any where close to being sersious.
Also, nice to see Ewan McGregor keep his cloths and dashingly coiffed.
Schindler's List (1993)
OK, I have to say I'm a wimp regarding holocaust films. Also, with Steven Spielberg directing I was expecting pure emotional torture.
With everything that has been said about this film... all I can say is that this is NOT as over-rated as I had thought. Glad I mustered my courage to sit down and watch this great film.
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Why did it take me so long to watch this film? Actually there are quite a number of films that I watched in college but only half reels or film clips used to show an example.
So, thanks to portlander for the great gift. A film I'll watch again and again.
The Road (1982) (1982)
OK, so after spending much of May sorting through all my email updates regarding the Cannes Film Festival... you start to feel a little bummed that your not there and most of the films are one to three years away from ever being viewed. So... MUBI was showing "The Road" which won the Golden Palm award in 1982, and I figured I would watch the film.
The film quality is pretty dated and feels rather rough. It also took some effort to figure out which story went with which guy. I actually didn't like the film that much but the more time I spent with the film the more it grew on me. It may not be my favorite film from Turkey, it was nice to watch a classic.
Oddly enough it went well with a few other films that I had watched in May.
There are many interesting aspects to the life and rise of Genghis Khan. However, this film starts with his early life and childhood. While it does try to paint a different picture of Temudjin before he became known as Genghis Khan. So, while I thought it was an interesting interpretation of his life... it left out a lot of far more interesting aspects to show Temudjin as a family man.
The film wasn't bad and sort of fits into some of the other films I have slated for the month but I don't think it would be a film that I would encourage others to rush out and watch.
Fucked up relationships... well that is certainly 'my type of film'. These are great and deeply flawed characters. Who enter a relationship that is supportive but also wholly destructive.
As far as the films from Turkey that I have watched, This is perhaps the most assessable and one that I wouldn't hesitated to recommend.
The ending did feel a little drawn out and tried to push an ending of resolution. I would have been happy if it had ended earlier and left the ending vague but that is a minor personal qualm.
Czech Dream (2004)
What happens when the latest super mall turns out to be all a stunt? I do like that the directors do attempt to not impose there personal meaning on the project. Still, there is the shadow of the European Union being sold as a dream to the Czech people.
I enjoyed the film but I'm also a frequented reading of AdBusters. I also remember how many people rushed out to buy the first version of "Windows" and they infact didn't have a computer and were rather upset with the contents of the box.
From Studio Ghibli this has to be one of my new favorites. The issues regarding nature and the natural cycle of life feel more refined then in other stories. It is also the central core of how humans will survive. Still, it manages to capture this in a science fiction way that doesn't weigh down the message of the film an actual fun and exciting film to watch.
If your going to watch "Nomad", I would recommend that you watch "Mongol" (2007) first or at least together. Both films have a similar cinematic style and story-telling elements.
There is a lot of criticisms that there was more action then story in this film... ah... which makes me wonder what 'historical based action films' people are watching because most of them are ether empty of facts or just skip them. At least this film made some effort to include some details. So, while I liked the film and found it engaging, most of that can be attributed to watching "Nomad" first and less to do with the actual film.
Wings (1927) (1928)
Not a review of the film ---
This is the first film to win an Oscar and it wasn't until 2012 that it was issued on DVD. My typical dvd by mail service didn't seen to inclined to actually own a copy so I waited... and waited... and waited...
The blu-ray version is JAW DROPPING STUNNING and they managed to get everything right. The daytime is sepia toned while the night shots are blue tinted film stock. The restoration of the hand-painted battle scenes is impeccable. It was actually confusing to watch a silent film and the actors don't look like circus clowns with too much make-up.
There will be many arguments over what silent film is the 'best'. For story and pure technical marvel it will be difficult to knock this off the top of my list.
So, yes... a must see and I humbly have to say that 'yes, it is time I moved to blu-ray'
The Small Back Room (1949)
An understated classic from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. This is an intamate film about Sammy Rice a bomb disposal expert who struggles with alcoholism and pain from his artificial foot.
So, yep... sort of relate to the film a little bit more then the average viewer. Tempering what you can do in a day just because of pain and constantly weighing that with any form of pain relief is a lifestyle. Alcohol works in the film as deciding factor of choosing to be 'well and in pain' or choosing oblivion and self destruction.
I did rent the Criterion version but I didn't spend any time with any of the extras on the dvd. Oh, and it was great to see Kathleen Byron again... but in a less psychotic roll then 'Black Narcissus'.
A great spy drama. The film runs very much on the dark side and actually was more enjoyable in that aspect then any of the Jason Bourne films. So, if your expecting a lot of car chases and random people shooting at each other for no apparent reason... you should skip this film.
Mrs. Dalloway (1997)
I liked the film but I also liked the book far more. Mrs. Dalloway is just one of those charming literary characters that is a joy to spend time with... even if the film didn't quite manage to capture some important aspects of the story.
The Letter (1940)
Well, Bette Davis emptying the contents of a revolver into the back of a man is... certainly a great way to start a film. However, from there it becomes rather predicatable about 'why she shot him' and 'what will eventual happen to her'. Then again most of this was done through effective use of visual keys and some wonderful directing to show what wasn't being said.
So, despite the fact that I didn't find a thing surprising in the film... it was a joy to watch simply for acting and directing.
"If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted let him look to Norway"
This film was a great discovery. I loved that it starts with a mystery. German troops enter a town filled with dead bodies. The movie flashes back and the story of the battle begins to unfold.
You can watch the whole film on YouTube... and it is a pretty decent copy that isn't horrible to watch full screen.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
This was actually a surprisingly good adaptation of the novel. Many liberties were taken but it was still a fun film to watch and great to see some of the early technicolor inserts. The weakest aspect to the film was the overly-bland main character still there was a great supporting cast to cover those flaws.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
I have a few version of this film to watch and out of sheer randomness this was the first. I actually didn't want to like the film and had suspected that I would turn it off at some point. However, I never seemed to reach that point and watched it from start to finish.
A fine film and it will be interesting to see which version turns out to be my favorite.
1956's Tea and Sympathy is a diluted filmization of Robert Anderson's Broadway play. The original production was considered quite daring in its attitudes towards homosexuality (both actual and alleged) and marital infidelity; the film softpedals these elements, as much by adding to the text as by subtracting from it. John Kerr (Tom) plays a sensitive college student who prefers the arts to sports; as such, he is ridiculed as a "sissy" by his classmates and hounded mercilessly by his macho-obsessed father Edward Andrews. Only student Darryl Hickman treats Kerr with any decency, perceiving that being different is not the same as being effeminate. Deborah Kerr (Laura), the wife of testosterone-driven housemaster Leif Erickson, likewise does her best to understand rather than condemn John for his "strangeness." Desperate to prove his manhood, John is about to visit town trollop Norma Crane. Though nothing really happens, the girl cries "rape!" Both John's father and Deborah's husband adopt a thick-eared "Boys will be boys" attitude, which only exacerbates John's insecurities. Feeling pity for John and at the same time resenting her own husband's boorishness, Deborah offers her own body to the mixed-up boy. "When you speak of this in future years...and you will...be kind." With this classic closing line, the original stage production of Tea and Sympathy came to an end. Fearing censorship interference, MGM insisted upon a stupid epilogue, indicating that Deborah Kerr deeply regretted her "wrong" behavior. ~ All Movie Guide
This film is a great example of how censorship or fear of retribution from studio executives can pretty much kill every decent aspect of a film. The film winds up being too gay to be mainstream and too straight to be considered an actual gay film. I actually had to resort to buying the dvd because none of the places I rent from find this film worth putting on the shelf.
I did like the film.... even while I felt that it could have been better if it had turned into a gore soaked horror film by the second half. The pain of the main characters is only amplified by the films painful attempts to skirt the issues and never 'go too far'.
Really, this should be remade... ether straight from the play or as a campy horror film.
A family epic film as it follows the life of a Texas rancher and his new wife a 'northerner'. The film starts with their meeting and quick wedding then follows through their lives as they deal with issues on the ranch and the raising of their children. There are some interesting aspects dealing with owning land and the growing oil boom, as well as issues involving bigotry towards Mexicans. However, this is a pretty long film and I really started to lose interest at about two and a half hours.
While the film is considered one of the "Greats", I never found the characters nor story very interesting or captivating. The lame attempt of having James Dean's character act as some sort of tension to the marriage was so bland it became sort of a farce as James Dean acts out his 'I want to be free, damn the consequences' character. In fact it was only interesting because I kept thinking about "There Will Be Blood".
While it ended decently enough it was for the most part just dull and really could have spent some time with a few Doris Day comedies.
The Awful Truth (1937)
Topper (1937) (1937)
Re-Watch. I watched this before... ages ago. While not 'laugh out loud funny' it was still a great comedy and remains one of my favorites.
The Big Sleep (1946)
I think this is the third or fourth time I have rewatched this film... I wasn't sure which "The Big ..." noir film I have seen or not see. So, it was time to sit down with them all. All that is missing now is "The Big Clock".
The Big Combo (1955)
The Big Heat (1953)
Yes! Fritz Lang directs this dramatic Film Noir. This made watching all three films together worth the time and effort.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) (1958)
Tennessee Williams was upset that the film removed some the more blatant homosexual content but really... this was the 50's and it really wasn't too difficult to guess at a few elements that weren't said. Also, I don't think it would have added that much to the film to have Brick be a wreak because he found out his best friend was gay for him.
After watching the rather bland "Giant" it was great to see Elizabeth Taylor in a powerful acting roll.
Set in Italy, the film follows the lives and interactions of two boys/men, one born a bastard of peasant stock (Depardieu), the other born to a land owner (de Niro). The drama spans from 1900 to about 1945, and focuses mainly on the rise of Fascism and the peasants' eventual reaction by supporting Communism, and how these events shape the destinies of the two main characters ~ IMDB
OK, at a run time of about five hours, I really don't think I can do another 'epic' film this year.
This was a great film, certainly but I really could have used more insight into each of the main characters. By the second part I started to get frustrated by how each of them were reacting... to be blunt there really wasn't enough there to interpret. Also, the end felt VERY dragged out... what the hell was with workers stating their grievances followed by a little upbeat musical interlude. Especially when the life of one of the main characters was hanging in the balance.
That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the film. Hay, I watched the whole thing with only minor bathroom breaks. It was also a pretty dark insight into the rise of Fascism in Italy. Which, I have seen a few films set during the time period. I think this is one of the darker versions I have watched.
Still, if you going to watch the film. Make sure you find the 317 min uncut version. The 'rated R' version actually is edited.
A weekend of sex, drugs and laying the soul bare. I really was expecting another trashy low-budget soft core film. While not as great as "Before Sunrise" (1995) this almost felt like the queer alternative. Deep, thoughtful and in the end very touching.
Oh, and thank god the actors didn't look nor act like underwear models trying to get a job. Which automatically ranks it higher in my book.
Peru - Spanish Language film
The gay themed films tend to get a little old and fall into rather predictable sub-genres; what it takes to be a man, coming out and HIV/health issues. This film isn't that different in that it deals with issues of masculinity and coming out.
This would normally be something that I score rather poorly... however this is a heartfelt film and the relationship with the man and the ghost of his lover is sad and tender. It also doesn't hurt that the story is filmed in a small fishing village that is simply beautiful to watch.
So, while the 'issues' may not be new, this was worth watching. An endearing little film that doesn't take on more then it needs to.
Five by Five
In the Bedroom (2001)
The story of loss, rage and the desire for revenge after the loss of a couples only son.Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek both give amazing... unforgettable performances as the film captures the day-to-day realities of living with loss.
It was also interesting to watch this right after watching "The Road". For me it seemed to highlight the cultural differences in how we deal with tragedy and loss.
Anguish (1987) (1988)
Wow, just when I was starting to feel very jaded towards the horror film genre comes this creepy ass film. I honestly can't remember a film that was creepy from the first credits to the last credit rolling. Pretty sure that watching it in a theater would have given me nightmares. Still, if I ever see this playing at some local dollar theater... I'll be sure to be there.
The film within a film is very effective and you never really become that bored with ether film playing. There are also some nice, film corresponding to film, corresponding to a third film... early horror, giallo horror and 80's horror all roll together.
So, yes... turn out the lights... make sure your back is to the wall and enjoy a creepy classic.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
I like that this film didn't focus on the break down of the family before the separation of the parents but that the break down happens after the separation. Struggling to live a better life is a destructive process. The characters aren't very likable nor is how they handle their new situation. This is a rather gritty look at divorce and growing up without feeling overly trite or exploring just the ugly side of human nature. This ranks higher in my book then 'American Beauty'.
Castle in the Sky (1986)
I may have done myself a disservice by watching this with "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" as they both have similar environmental messages. Also, I watched the dubbed version with Anna Paquin as one of the voices... which after "The Squid and the Whale" is sort of difficult to hear her voice without thinking of the "Vagina Monologues".
I love the word that is created and the various characters. If there was a "Castle in the Sky" pc game where you just wandered around in a world for hours not doing much... I would happily play for hours on end. A thrilling and fun story. While it may not rank as my all time favorite Studio Ghibli ranks close to the top and was worth buying for my collection.
The Artist (2011)
The invention of the 'talking picture' was devastating to many actors and directors. The film does a great job of providing a little glimpse into the conversion to 'talkies'. Above all the film manages to entertain and felt extreamly short by the end of film. If there were to be any complaints it would be that I would have liked to have seen more.
Ha, and could it be that between "The Artist" and "Buffalo '66" I am actually enjoying tap dancing in films?
While I would like to believe that I'm a cinematic snob... I did try to watch "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) with Douglas Fairbanks right after watching "The Artist" and well... I fell asleep.
I actually like the start of the film and I though the initial idea of the story rather intresting. However about halfway through the film... all logic goes out the window and your sort of left with a film were random events keep happening and make no sense. Some gaps in logic are fine but this quickly became a tedious bore... of me saying to myself "you have got to be kidding me" and rolling my eyes.
Sort of sad... I think the film would have worked better as "Mama" and the life of the girls in the woods and a sequel "Mama 2" where they are introduced into society. There was just simply too much 'what the girls learned' in the woods that was never explained and information that was never done anything with.
Grave Encounters 2 (2012)
I actually liked this film and the premise... of course is a one that I usually enjoy 'was the film real'.
There were a few aspects that I found annoying and found myself rolling my eyes but that didn't happen too many times. How many times can a crazed madman make wardrobe changes... quite often apparently.
John Dies at the End (2013)
As far as surrealist horror goes... this isn't the best. It also remind me of how terrible "I Sell the Dead" turned out... for some reason directors have forgotten how to tell episodes within a story. Still, there is always the book... which... yes... seems more interesting to me after watching the film.
Dark Skies (2013)
I don't normally watch that many 'alien' horror films... I don't find them that frightening and well how many season of the X-files did I watch?
Well, I'm happy to say that this was actually a above average alien horror film, that did manage to creep me out. While the film may be more traditional horror jumps and scares... it did the trick and was great to watch.
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Cinema Diary for 2013
The Year of The Snake
This is a scrapbook of ideas, impressions and information about the movies I watch. It is basic, rough and raw in an effort to expand my personal viewing experiences. This is a creative exercise not a critical one. I hope you enjoy.
Diary Entries for 2013
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