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falderal : a moving images blog
Sunday - November 29th, 2015
Intertitles and Close-Ups

Hello everyone!


Mary can’t believe that there is a new post too!

I haven’t been blogging here in awhile but I do have two “subsites” that I have been working on. One is dedicated to intertitles and another one is dedicated to close-ups so please take a gander! There are oodles of gifs for your pleasure.

Currently I’m trying to collect as many intertitles as possible for a potential project so if anyone has any film recommendations (based on intertitle styles), please leave a comment.

See ya around!

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Thursday - August 20th, 2015
Top 5 favourites from each decade

My friend, Kathryn, wanted me to share with her my favourite films going by decade (top 5 + honourable mention allowed), which I thought would be really fun to do. It also gave me an excuse to blog, hahaha!

These are the movies I would watch over and over again. If a certain decade is missing or if there aren’t 5 films listed, it’s because I don’t have any films to list. I didn’t list them in order of preference but by the year they were released.

While working on this list, I realized that it’s hard to really pick a favourite because sometimes I’d be like, “UGH, HOW CAN YOU BE SO PEDESTRIAN.”, but realized that was stupid of me to even judge myself or care about what others think. A lot of these films are ones I haven’t watched recently, so I wonder if I’ll still like some of my “favourites” if I rewatched them. For example, I adamantly disliked Hitchcock’s Notorious when I first watched it but after rewatching it a few days ago, now it’s one of my favourite Hitchcock films. It’s also possible that I might like other films more than the ones listed but I don’t remember them that well and need to rewatch them to jog my memory.

Some decades were incredibly hard to do because there were so many favourites, such as the 1920s-1950s. I even told Kathryn about how hard it was and she told me how she imagined herself on a deserted island and how she tended to lean towards happier films so that helped me a lot because I knew that that is what I would have done too. But as someone who is quite sentimental, I had to make sure that films by my favourite actors and directors had to be on this list because if I was on a deserted island, I will need my dose of those! I guess that sort of skewed how I chose films because I would think “Well, there is a Hitchcock film from this decade, so maybe I don’t need another Hitchcock film? What would be the one Hitchcock film I’d pick over all else?”

Here is the list! Can’t wait to see yours, Kathryn! (And I’d like to know what you think of my list, if you have the time to respond.)

1910s
-The Rink (1916)
-The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)
-Stella Maris (1918)

1920s
-Die Bergkatze (1921)
-Die freudlose Gasse (1925)
-Faust (1926)
-La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)
-Show People (1928)
Honorable mention: It (1927)

1930s
-Trouble in Paradise (1932)
-42nd Street (1933)
-Glückskinder (1936)
-Swing Time (1936)
-The Women (1939)
Honorable mention: Dodsworth (1936)

1940s
-His Girl Friday (1940)
-Suspicion (1940)
-The Maltese Falcon (1941)
-The Major and the Minor (1942)
-Old Acquaintance (1943)
Honorable mention: The Lady Eve (1941)

1950s
-All About Eve (1950)
-Sunset Blvd. (1950)
-Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
-Madame de… (1953)
-The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)
Honorable mention: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

1960s
-Lover Come Back (1961)
-The Parent Trap (1961)
-Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
-Send Me No Flowers (1964)
-Sedmikrásky (1966)
Honorable mention: Vivre sa vie : film en douze tableaux (1962)

1970s
-Il conformista (1970)
-Harold and Maude (1971)
-Cabaret (1972)
-What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
-Höstsonaten (1978)
Honorable mention: Vérités et mensonges (1973)

1980s
-Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982)
-Victor/Victoria (1982)
-A Christmas Story (1983)
-Amadeus (1984)
-Dead Poets Society (1989)
Honorable mention: Valmont (1989)

1990s
-Reservoir Dogs (1992)
-Trois couleurs: Blanc (1994)
-Mimi wo sumaseba (1995)
-As Good as It Gets (1997)
-The Matrix (1999)
Honorable mention: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

2000s
-Harry Potter series (2001-2011)
-The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
-Down with Love (2003)
-Saved! (2004)
-Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Honorable mention: 8 femmes (2002)

2010s
-Toy Story 3 (2010)
-The Help (2011)
-American Hustle (2013)
-The Imitation Game (2014)

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Saturday - May 16th, 2015
And more films…

I’m not doing such a bad job with my film watching! Also, I plan to do a Thin Man marathon soon… or maybe a Fred and Ginger marathon. I hope I’m up to it! I WILL BLOG ALL OF THIS. I MUST BLOG.

I thought that seeing all text posts was depressing so I decided to put pictures of movie posters. Once I’m I grad school, I hope to write more thorough posts… or at least ones with screenshots! I have a feeling that my blog posts are going to be just like this though, haha~

———–

Amarcord (1973)
Director: Federico Fellini
Actors: Armando Brancia, Magali Noël, Ciccio Ingrassia, Bruno Zanin, Josiane Tanzilli, Maria Antonietta Beluzzi, Giuseppe Ianigro
Country: Italy, France

I seem to be watching Fellini’s self-referential films for some reason — I’m not doing it on purpose but the ones I happen to pick up are the ones that reflect Fellini. Or are all of his films like this? What do I know since I know nothing about Fellini!
I enjoyed this film so much and I don’t really know why. I found it to be so beautiful to watch with all of its lush colours and it was like an Antonioni film where each shot looks like something that would be a beautiful photograph. The film felt surreal at times but it always had my attention even though I feel like a film like this could easily make me lose interest.
There are so many hilarious moments that I thought that Fellini was a visual humour genius, just like how I view Lubitsch. I laughed so hard at the car scene when the boys were group masturbating and the car was shaking and the lights were flickering and at the scene where Titta is suffocated by the tobacco shop owner’s boobs. I also couldn’t help but laugh when Gradisca’s butt was pelted with snowballs. I really can’t wait to make gifs from this film and write about this film again.
The Fascist scenes were really interesting because it made me think of how I, as an American, respect the president, but let’s say that America wasn’t a superpower — it’s possible that the world might view the president in a very negative light, just like how we now view Mussolini. America isn’t a perfect country and I admit that I don’t want to know much about the war going on because it would probably make me sick. It’s probably how the Italians felt went Mussolini was in power but because Italy lost the war, the perspective on Mussolini is very different compared to the time when he was in power.
The one issue I had with the film was its portrayal of women. I felt that for the most part, they were dehumanized, although I suppose an argument can be made that it’s completely understandable because the film follows Titta and we find out that he’s a typical boy that gets turned on by women and only cares about sex and not much else.
Random thought, but did Fellini have Fred e Ginger in mind since the Fred and Ginger movie poster was so prominently shown in a shot? Or just a coincidence?
I definitely enjoyed this film more than and I look forward to seeing more of Fellini’s films!

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Laura (1944)
Director: Otto Preminger
Actors: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson
Country: U.S.A.

The first time I watched Laura, I remember that I wasn’t really impressed. I found it rather dull and kind of boring and the only thing that got me going was Gene Tierney’s gorgeous face.
Now that I rewatched it, I feel like I am kind of like Detective McPherson in that I’m growing more intrigued by this film and I’m growing to like it! And the thing is, I don’t know why!!! Sometimes I think about this film and think that it is a bad film because total wtfbbq at Laura and Det. McPherson falling in love like that because I see no reason why either of them would fall in love with each other. I found all the characters to be rather unlikable and unrelatable and found them to be so distant (that’s really the best way I can describe how I feel) with no motivation behind their actions. At the same time I wonder if Preminger is an amazing director because he can make a film look polished, feel empty (yet you wonder the emptiness of it), yet captivating. I need to rewatch Bonjour Tristesse because I remember feeling the same way about that film too.
The casting of this film is excellent and while I’m sure everyone agrees that Gene Tierney’s performance as the titular character is A+, I don’t think enough can be said about Clifton Webb’s performance because it was so, SO good. He really made the film and if it weren’t for his stellar acting, I don’t know if Gene Tierney’s performance alone could have carried this film. I can’t even imagine who else would have been just as good, if not better, as Waldo Lydecker as Clifton Webb was. Also, I think that Lydecker is the character that I like the most in this film, but I think it’s because I/the viewer knows about him the most. In regards to Dana Andrews, I don’t know what to make of him in this film. Sometimes I think he is perfect in it and at other times I think it’s really bad acting. I know he’s a competent actor and maybe it’s the kind of character that Detective McPherson is supposed to be, but I really do waffle back and forth about him. If I’m comparing him to another famous detective performance in cinema, Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, both have this rough exterior but when I watch Bogart as Sam Spade, I am enthralled by his performance. Maybe it’s because Sam has such great lines that McPherson doesn’t really seem to shine? I feel like he’s a character that is just there because it’s necessary for the plot. AGH I AM SO CONFLICTED.

———–

The Razor’s Edge (1946)
Director: Edmund Goulding
Actors: Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Herbert Marshall, Elsa Lanchester, Fritz Kortner
Country: U.S.A.

I was SO looking forward to watching this film (I mean, look at that cast!) because I’ve read so much about Gene Tierney’s performance in this film, but I didn’t really enjoy the film. I wouldn’t mind watching it again, but overall, I felt indifferent about it. I’m surprised by this because the cast is superb and I love film adaptations of W. Somerset Maugham’s works but I found the story to be dull. Thankfully the acting kept me going because Herbert Marshall was elegant as usual as Somerset Maugham, Clifton Webb was great and elegant as always, and Anne Baxter was flipping amazing as Sophie, especially during the scenes after her character loses her child and husband. I thought Gene Tierney was alright until the end when you saw the vehemence when her and Tyrone Power’s character talk about Sophie’s death because she totally stole the scene. What is so amazing about Gene Tierney is that she is one heck of an actress and she has the face of an angel so she excels at playing scenes and characters where the most ugly parts of the human psyche is exposed. What I was surprised about was Fritz Kortner’s appearance in this film because I never thought I’d see him in an American film. It was like how I felt when I saw Alexander Granach in Ninotchka because I associate German silent films to Kortner. I see Kortner as one of the best Expressionist actors so to see him play his role in The Razor’s Edge with subtlety was really a treat to see. I thought that his acting alone made the film worth watching.

———–

Image credit: Wikipedia.org

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Monday - May 11th, 2015
More film watching

I’ve been naughty and have been rewatching some films. I can’t always get myself to watch new movies — I don’t know why!!!

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The Age of Innocence (1993)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Geraldine Chaplin
Country: U.S.A.

First of all, I did like the film, but there were things that I felt were slightly off because of the casting of the main characters. Day-Lewis, Pfeiffer, and Ryder are great actors but I guess that I imagined these characters a certain way that I couldn’t get passed the cast. However, I do think that it says something about how great these actors are because I started seeing why these actors were chosen for their parts. Pfeiffer was graceful, the way I imagined Ellen to be; Ryder occasionally looked so sweet and innocent, which is how I saw May; and I started to get over Day-Lewis’ hair because I always imagined Newland to have a more slicked down hairdo. My ideal cast would have been John Barrymore for Newland, Mary Astor or Vivien Leigh for Ellen, and… oh May is such a hard one! Maybe Lana Turner? Joan Fontaine? Ooooh maybe Lillian Gish?!?! I think Lillian is the one I’ll stick with for May!
Because I have such an immense crush on Winona Ryder, I just have to say that the sweetness of May came through in the scene when she is reading (narrating?) the letter to Newland about agreeing to hasten the wedding. Also, she did a perfect job in the scene when she tells Newland that she is pregnant.
The only major complaint I have is the use of voiceover even though I know why it was used — I knew that voiceovers would be inevitable for this film. I wondered how in the world anyone could film this book due to how descriptive it is and how much of it is based on Newland’s perception of New York society, but I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up enjoying the film even though I hoped that Scorsese would find a way around voiceovers. I honestly was a bit wary to watch the film because I imagined that anyone who attempts to film The Age of Innocence would fail.
Beautifully shot film (especially the ending!!!) and I loved all the food porn. I still stand by that this is Scorsese’s Barry Lyndon because I didn’t expect either Scorsese or Kubrick to make the films.

———–

Chaplin (1992)
Director: Richard Attenborough
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd
Country: U.S.A., Japan, France, Italy

Since I do not know much about Chaplin’s personal history, I don’t really have anything to compare this film too, which I am actually glad about because knowing too much about Chaplin could have made me dislike the film because all I would be doing is moan about inaccuracies or wonder why they left certain things out. But maybe the film isn’t riddled with inaccuracies since Chaplin’s daughter is in the film and I doubt she would have been in it if she strongly disagreed with it. I don’t think the film itself is made well (it is ok but I had some issues with the way they edited it), but the acting was phenomenal!!! I also loved Mary Pickford’s hair in the film and even though she wasn’t portrayed in a good light, it is true that Chaplin and Pickford did not get along so I wouldn’t be surprised if Pickford was nasty to Chaplin.
Geraldine Chaplin and Robert Downey Jr. shine in this film and seeing their performance was a joy to watch. At first I was like, “Robert can’t get away with this. He can’t be Chaplin.” but I was proven wrong because his performance was so convincing that it was as if he became Chaplin. I wouldn’t mind rewatching this movie to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s performance again because it is just that good.

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Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse
Country: U.S.A.

I’ve wanted to rewatch this movie for some time and I finally got around to it! The last time (and only time) I watched this was in 2007 or 2008 and my mom told me that she enjoyed this movie a lot and that I should watch it. I loved this movie back then because I thought that it was hilarious and fell in love with Gene Kelly’s dancing. I still love the same scene, which is when The Dueling Cavalier‘s sound synchronization goes out the window; it is one of the most hilarious scenes I have seen in any film that I’ve watched.
The reason why I wanted to rewatch this film was because I remembered enjoying it but didn’t remember why I liked it so much nor did I really remember much about it. After rewatching it, I found out that I still love the movie because I find it funny, but I now love it because of all the references to film history. When I first watched it, it was when I was getting my feet wet with film history, so I knew about silent films but not much. Now that I am more aware of film history, all the scenes related to the silent-to-talkie transition resonated with me.
It was rewatching this movie that made me keenly aware of Gene Kelly’s athleticism in regards to his dancing. In the “Moses Supposes” number, seeing Gene dancing next to Donald O’Connor made me think of Fred Astaire because O’Connor is slim and his dancing isn’t as full of power and energy like Gene’s. O’Connor is a great dancer but his style is different than Gene’s, just like how Fred and Gene are very different too. I saw so much power in Gene’s dancing that I was blown away.
I still can’t get over the beauty of how that long veil moves in the “Broadway Melody” sequence — Cyd Charisse looked awesome in it! The whole “Broadway Melody” sequence also made me think that Hollywood films can be very avant-garde and artsy-fartsy too because there were times when it looked very surreal. I actually find all of Gene Kelly’s ballet sequences to be really surreal and it takes the musical genre to a whole ‘nother level. Fred and Ginger tell a story through their dancing and Gene Kelly does the same thing too, but by taking the viewers into a whole different realm than the location of the story is a bold thing to do. I guess it isn’t as jarring in this film because Gene Kelly’s character is telling his idea for The Dancing Cavalier, but it was rather surreal in On the Town and (if I remember correctly) An American in Paris.
Also, does anyone think that Gene Kelly is not a very convincing silent film actor? I don’t know what it is about him but he just doesn’t look like one!!! I know that makes no sense whatsoever because there is no “look” when it comes to an actor in a silent film. I kind of felt that way about Jean Hagan too. Don’t get me wrong though because this movie would not be the same without them and I love them in it.

———–

On the Town (1949)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen, Alice Pearce
Country: U.S.A.

Around 2008 or so, I did a Gene Kelly marathon where I would hunt down as many Gene Kelly films as I can and watch whatever I could get my hands on. After several years passed, my memory of these films waned but I remember that back then, there was a film that I considered to be better than Singin’ in the Rain in Gene’s oeuvre. The thing is, I don’t remember what the movie was called but I thought that it was this film or It’s Always Fair Weather because I remembered sailors, Frank Sinatra, and Cyd Charisse.
Now that I watched this film, I don’t think this is the movie I was thinking about but at least I know which movie has Frank Sinatra and sailors — I hope that I don’t forget again. I wonder if my taste and perceptions of movies have changed so much that I won’t know which film I preferred back then. This film was fun to watch but I didn’t think it was anything special and I don’t think I’d watch it again because there isn’t even a scene that would draw me back to this film. Oh wait, I will rewatch parts of this film because I want to learn how to do the Charleston and I think that this film shows off the dance quite well! I wonder what I thought of this film when I first watched it; this is why I need to be more vigilant with my blogging!
Between the time I first watched this film and the time I rewatched it, I was on a Bewitched kick so I was so happy to see Alice Pearce because I love her as Gladys Kravitz.
Now I need to get my hands on It’s Always Fair Weather!!!

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Mr. Skeffington (1944)
Director: Vincent Sherman
Actors: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Country: U.S.A.

This is the first Bette Davis film that I’ve ever watched and the first time I watched it, I hated it! I hated the film, I hated Bette Davis, and I was a raging madwoman and didn’t understand the hype about this film or Bette. Well, things have changed over many many years and I think I’ve watched more Bette Davis films than Joan Crawford films >_>; I used to say that I love Joan more than Bette but I’m not too sure anymore!!! I now love them both and they’re brilliant in their own ways.
Anyway, I rewatched this film a year or two ago and I really enjoyed it and found it so touching. I don’t know why I hated it so much when I first watched it and why I found it to be such a bore then, but when I rewatched this film once again, I enjoyed it once more. When Job comes back and Fanny accepts him, my heart was wrung dry and my eyes watered from emotion.
I believe that I read this in Bette’s memoir when she said that she bluffed her way through this role because she knew she wasn’t the most beautiful woman. This film shows off Bette’s acting chops because she is totally convincing as the most desirable woman. I also find Bette to be pretty and wouldn’t mind if I looked like her at all — Warner Brothers knew how to make her up! Maybe all I need is a studio makeover?
I know I’m babbling a lot about Bette BUT HOW CAN WE FORGET CLAUDE RAINS’ PERFORMANCE? Jesus christ that man can act!!! He is so touching as Job and when Fanny keeps on mentioning his eyes, you completely understand what she means because Claude Rains is SO GOOD.

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Robin Hood (1922)
Director: Allan Dwan
Actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, Sam De Grasse, Enid Bennett, Paul Dickey
Country: U.S.A.

I know the basics about Fairbanks due to reading a bit about Mary Pickford but I never watched any of his films because I had this odd abhorrence towards them for no good reason. I think it’s because I felt as if the kinds of films he was known for wasn’t my type but… I WAS WRONG! My reluctance to watch a Fairbanks film ended up being the way I felt about western films: my feelings towards them were completely irrational.
I have to say that this film is something special because no other film has drawn me in that I started to whoop and holler while watching it. Without knowing, when Robin Hood was kicking some booty, I was shouting, “YOU GET THEM!”, “HOORAY!!!”, and other related things. I was laughing, squealing, and rooting for Robin Hood and this is something that I’ve never done in my entire life. I can now understand people who shout at bars while watching sports. Because no other film gave me such an interactive experience, I have to think highly of this film and put it in a special place. It’s rather odd since it’s not really a film I would watch on repeat or whenever I want to cheer up, but I can’t disregard the experience that this film gave me. I wonder if contemporary moviegoers also rooted for Robin Hood while watching this film.
Fairbanks was so charming in the role of Robin Hood. He was ok as the Earl of Huntingdon but he truly blossomed when he portrayed Robin Hood and I wanted to see more of Fairbanks and didn’t care for any of the other actors because he was a joy to watch. Kind of random, but I was surprised to like Wallace Beery in this film because I usually don’t care for him and always see him as a douchecanoe (I don’t know why), but I did like him as King Richard.
The film was shot beautifully and I couldn’t get over the gorgeous sets and elaborate costumes. Also, SERIOUS HAIR INSPIRATION IN THIS FILM. If anyone says that old films weren’t polished or as great as modern films or talkies, they need to watch this film because it has the finesse of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Did anyone else think of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the scene where the court jester is murdered? Another thing that surprised me was that people getting hanged and hanged people were shown in the film — isn’t that a bit disturbing?!
I need to make a gazillion gifs from this film because there were so many great moments.
I’m glad that the ice is broken and I look forward to watching more of Fairbanks’ work!

———–

Ninotchka (1939)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Actors: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach
Country: U.S.A.

Before I start rambling about the movie, CAN WE PLEASE DISCUSS BELA LUGOSI AND ALEXANDER GRANACH BEING IN THIS FILM?! I was working on my “art project” (paper chain) while watching this movie and when the film started and the credits came on, my eyes went straight for Bela Lugosi’s name and I was like, “WTFBBQQQQQQ?!?!”, because I’ve watched this film probably 10+ times and I never noticed. When the credits came on at the end of the film, my eyes went straight for Alexander Granach and once again I had the same exact reaction as I did to Bela Lugosi’s name. HOW IN THE WORLD DID I MISS THIS THE LAST BAZILLION TIMES THAT I HAVE WATCHED THIS FILM? HOW?! I always associate Alexander Granach with German silent films (never forget the pig exit in Schatten) so to see him in an American film (and a talkie at that!) had my head reeling.
I haven’t watched Ninotchka in awhile and decided that this time around, I’m going to be a more active viewer and try to find Lubitsch’s brilliance because as much as I love Lubitsch, I also question why he is so great. Sometimes I wonder if Lubitsch is great because of the great scripts he has (I’m focusing on the sound picture era here) or if he’s great because he really brings out the greatness of a darn good script. I need to read some academic works on Lubitsch to help me out… but I should do that after I do another Lubitsch marathon! After rewatching Ninotchka, I think that maybe Lubitsch’s brilliance is that you forget everything and become a passive viewer; I just take in the jokes and have a good time. I guess that’s some dangerous filmmaking though… I think this is even more apparent in To Be or Not to Be because I always feel reluctant recommending that film because as much as I love it and find it hilarious, some people might find it offensive. I wonder how Russians would see Ninotchka, especially people who lived much of their life in the USSR.
I have a love/hate relationship with Greta Garbo but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE her in this film. I wish that she did more comedies because she is brilliant in this film. Her deadpan face expressions are perfect but she is also great when her character loosens up too. It’s a real shame that her last film, also a comedy, was kind of a dud. I remember not enjoying it when I watched it… or maybe I’ll change my mind like I did with Mr. Skeffington?

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Saturday - May 2nd, 2015
Some quick thoughts

Since I got into grad school, I figured that I should brush up on my film knowledge before heading off because I say the following phrase too often: I’ve heard of the film, I know some things about it, but I haven’t watched it. Because of this, I am going to watch some films from my to-watch list. It’s about freaking time that I watched some of these!
I’m too tired to write fully thought out entries so this is the best I could muster.

8½ (1963)
Director: Federico Fellini
Actors: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée, Sandra Milo
Country: Italy, France
I FINALLY WATCHED THIS FILM. I FINALLY DID. AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF IT. My god, it’s beautifully shot and there were some parts of it that I loved but this was my reaction:
First third of the film: What is going on?!
Second third of the film: OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD.
Last third of the film: What what what what?! (à la Kyle’s mom from South Park)
I will have to rewatch this after 10 years have passed, although this movie did make me wonder if I would give it a second chance if it wasn’t such a well regarded film. Also, ANOUK AIMÉE IS SO GORGEOUS IN THIS MOVIE.

Asphalt (1929)
Director: Joe May
Actors: Albert Steinrück, Else Heller, Gustav Fröhlich, Betty Amann
Country: Germany
I really loved the way the title was filmed along with the city scenes since it reminded me of Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt — I think I read that the film was filmed by the same people? It was nice to see Gustav Fröhlich in a movie that isn’t Metropolis (will forever love his pants in that movie) and Betty Amann was such a babe in this film! Can I please look awesomely vampy as her one day?! Her as Else in this movie is my vamp idol. I didn’t find the movie to be too enjoyable to watch although I found it very interesting in that I felt like the movie was a morality film. It’s like: LOOK AT ALBERT’S PARENTS. THEY ARE OLD FASHIONED THUS HAPPY AND GOOD PEOPLE BUT LOOK AT HOW THE CITY HAS CORRUPTED ALBERT BECAUSE ELSE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF MODERNIZATION. Outside of that point, the story itself was nothing special and seemed trite. I did like the happy ending though :)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Director: Tay Garnett
Actors: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames
Country: U.S.A.
I DON’T REALLY CARE FOR THIS FILM BUT THIS MOVIE GAVE ME SO MANY FEELLLLLSSSSSSS. Cora, played by the oh-so-beautiful Lana Turner, is often labeled as a femme fatale and maybe I have the wrong idea of the definition of femme fatales, but to me, I always see that label as connoting something negative. Well, I don’t think Cora is a femme fatale and any trouble Frank got into in his movie was his fault. I found Frank so unlikable that I couldn’t help but side with Cora and couldn’t see her as anyone bad. I think it is because she is shown to be quite human (she is often stating her goals and she is jealous when she finds out Frank had a fling) whereas my personal ultimate femme fatale is Phyllis Dietrichson, who is cool as a cucumber and has an air of mystery. If you ask me, Cora doesn’t have that cool or steeliness that Phyllis does, although that kissing scene is AMAZING when she wipes her mouth and reapplies her lipstick after the kiss.
I wouldn’t watch this film for fun again but I really need to make a gif of that kissing scene because it is too great.

The Misfits (1961)
Director: John Huston
Actors: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach
Country: U.S.A.
I adore Marilyn Monroe and a long time ago, I decided that I’ll watch all the films she starred in but I kept pushing off watching The Misfits. I enjoyed it in the same manner that I enjoyed watching The Night of the Iguana because both films portray the characters so well.
Thelma Ritter was A+ as usual but what I found so disturbing about the film was seeing Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable. The Gable I know is the way he looked and sounded in the 1930s and to see him in this film looking so old and not having that voice of his was shocking. I didn’t know how to digest it and I felt like the charisma he had in all his older films was gone. He was good in the role but he didn’t have that sparkle that he has even in his most banal roles from the 1930s. I always associate Clift with his role in A Place in the Sun because that was the first film I saw him in and he made such a big impression on me. In The Misfits, he looked so haggard that I couldn’t get over it. What made it worse was that I felt like Marilyn Monroe looked so beautiful in this film and to see her with these two stars looking very different than what I am used to emphasized how I viewed her character in this film. Roslyn is so different from everyone around her and her beautiful appearance emphasized that amongst the other actors. The character of Roslyn is actually how I imagine Monroe to actually be: a very sensitive soul that isn’t understood by many people.

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Sunday - February 22nd, 2015
The Imitation Game ; 2014

Director: Morten Tyldum
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance
Country: United Kingdom

Today is the day of the Academy Awards and I went to watch The Imitation Game with my cousin. I didn’t know much about the film, except that Benedict Cumberbatch was in it, so I didn’t really care for it because nothing about it caught my interest and the title didn’t catch my eye either. I also didn’t know about Alan Turing, who I now find to be a very fascinating figure after reading about him after hearing an interview with Cumberbatch on Fresh Air. If it wasn’t for Fresh Air, I would have never watched this film. Thank goodness for my commute coinciding with Fresh Air on KPCC because I very much enjoyed this movie and the interview made me understand some scenes a bit better, such as the scenes of Turing running.

I jokingly hate on Cumberbatch due to his popularity on Tumblr but after listening to his interview on Fresh Air, I could see his appeal. I loved the interview and he did a great job selling this film (intentional or not) so I was itching to watch this movie and was curious about Cumberbatch as an actor since I’ve never seen him act. I never even heard his voice until the interview! I also like to hate on Keira Knightley for some irrational reason — I found her to be rather annoying in movies — but I realized that I should stop hating on her because I thought she was good in A Dangerous Method and I liked her a lot in this film. I always found her to be very pretty but in this film, her looks didn’t overshadow her performance, which I found to be nice since I stopped seeing her as just a pretty person but as an actress. It’s rather dehumanizing to just care about looks, no? So it’s nice that I wasn’t just like, “Oooh she is so pretty!” but more like, “Gosh, Joan Clarke is a fascinating character!”

What I loved about the movie was the script because at the beginning of the movie, Turing (Cumberbatch) says in a voice-over, “If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things […] When I am finished — when I have told you that I am finished — you are free to think whatever you like. But until then, you will trust that while this story will be hard for you to understand, everything I am saying I am saying for a reason. […] Pay attention.”
Why I find this beginning voice-over so important is because language is a key part of this film. Not only is the Enigma about language but the character of Turing is based on language. His childhood relationship with Christopher is based on language since it was Christopher that introduced him to cryptology and it was through his use of it that he was able to (or at least attempted to) reveal his feelings for Christopher. Turing names his machine “Christopher” is something to note too.
It is also through language that we see how Turing can’t get along with people around him but it is also through language that we see how his relationship with Clarke is different. Turing’s interview with Commander Denniston is hilarious for the audience (I really loved the comic moments in the film, which are also mostly based on, you guessed it, words) but you can see why Denniston dislikes Turing and why others are so turned off by him. I don’t think Turing dislikes people — it’s just that he cares for how words are phrased, which is why we come back to what he says in the beginning of the film: “everything I am saying I am saying for a reason”. When Cairncross asks Turing about going to lunch with him and the rest of Hut 8, he repeatedly says, “I said we were going to get some lunch?” and says, “I had asked if you wanted to have lunch with us.” and Turing says, “No you didn’t. You told me you were getting lunch.”
Even though it appears to be that Turing doesn’t know about social cues, with Clarke, he seems to understand how language works. Turing mentions how he is confused by language and in a scene, young Turing tells Christopher, “When people talk to each other they never say what they mean. They say something else. And you’re supposed to just know what they mean. Only, I never do.” but when he tries to get Clarke to be part of his team, he grasps how to play the game. He is able to say things so that Clarke’s parents can hear things they would want to hear so that Clarke can work at Bletchley Park. He’s also shown as a caring person when he asks Clarke to marry him so that she could continue her work and not be pestered by her parents. The way he breaks off his engagement to Clarke by using harsh words were on purpose. At first I didn’t understand why he said such nasty things to Clarke to end the engagement when Clarke was fine with the kind of marriage they would have (to be honest, it sounded like an awesome marriage to me!), but the scene when we see Clarke and Turing in the 1950s explained why he said such things. Can I just say that the scene with Clarke and Turing in the 50s was heartbreaking? I almost cried! When Turing can no longer do a crossword puzzle, you can see the horrors of the chemical castration and what it’s doing to a brilliant man. Turing wanted Clarke to have a normal life because he couldn’t have it and was possibly bitter about it (which is what I get since he realizes that he can’t get along with other people because he doesn’t understand social cues and what people mean when they say certain things) but Clarke turns it around and tells him how it is extraordinary people like him who save lives and do something great. I love how Clarke says what Turing tells her: “I think that sometimes it is the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
Of course, the script would not come alive if it weren’t for the stellar performances of the supporting actors and Cumberbatch because so much is said through words but through body language as well. Without such competent acting, the script would have fell flat.

I also LOVEDDDD the movie because of the portrayal of Clarke. The film made me think that Clarke was a person of note, brought to the forefront of how women were seen during the 1930s-1940s, and I even wondered why there weren’t movies about Clarke when she was as much of an interesting person as Turing. Like holy cow, this woman was brilliant but society was not appreciative of her intellect because she was a woman and I felt that the movie made sure that the viewers were very aware of this. Yay feminism!

Some people seem to have issues about this film because some people might say that this film doesn’t put enough emphasis on Turing’s sexual orientation but I liked that it wasn’t all ~in your face~ about it because I saw the focus of this film to be about language and what it took to break the Enigma. I can see why people might be upset because it might not be… gay enough (?)… but what I thought was good about the film was that it might open up people’s minds about a sexual orientation that isn’t heterosexuality. It portrays a man who had to suffer for something that was seen as a crime and it’s heartbreaking to see a brilliant man turn into a shell of himself at the end of the film and I hope the film makes people who are against homosexuality to think that people who are gay are not bad and aren’t sinners or what have you. One can’t help but think that it’s wrong that Turing has to go through “hormone therapy” because what he did was seen as indecent. Just because someone is gay, does it mean that it is right to ruin a brilliant man? I’d say, “Nope nope nope.” When Turing asks Detective Nock, “Am I a war hero? Am I a criminal?”, Nock says that he can’t judge him and while Turing realizes that Nock can’t help him with the criminal charges, at least Nock acknowledges his indecision, which I see as a reflection of the possibility for people to open their minds about homosexuality. I found Turing to be a likeable character, which I think makes homosexuality more approachable (erm… I don’t know if I’m phrasing my thoughts well) to people who might be uncomfortable about it. A small step, but an important step in my eyes. Just my opinion.

Should this film win the Oscar for best picture? In my eyes, no. Out of the Best Picture films that I have watched (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and now The Imitation Game), I think Birdman should get the Oscar but I think that Boyhood will get it. Or maybe Whiplash? I don’t know what Whiplash is about (Except that it’s about a drummer? That’s what I gathered from a quick glance of the poster.) so maybe that will win? If American Sniper wins, I might roll my eyes. Actually, I’m pretty sure I will. I’m so judgmental, hahaha!
Should Benedict Cumberbatch win for Best Actor? I have no clue but I loved how his acting seemed so effortless. After a few scenes, I forgot that he was Cumberbatch but saw him as Turing because his acting seemed so naturalistic. It wasn’t even like acting but seeing someone naturally, which I think is a sign of good acting. If I’m forgetting that someone is acting, that means that they’re doing an great job, right?!

Anyway, I really, REALLY enjoyed this film and I want to rewatch it. I wouldn’t mind buying a DVD of it if it has good special features!

IMDb Link: The Imitation Game

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Monday - February 10th, 2014
A Night in Casablanca ; 1946

Director: Archie Mayo
Actors: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Charles Drake, Lois Collier, Sig Ruman
Country: U.S.A.

This is my first Marx Brothers movie and I thought it was ok. I still haven’t watched Duck Soup so I’m definitely not writing off the Marx Brothers as “not my cup of tea”. For the most part, I found this movie quite dull even though I adored Groucho Marx’s lines and found the gags in Count Pfferman’s (Ruman) room (when the “Count” is trying to pack) but they weren’t enough to entice me to make me want to watch another Marx Brothers film right away.

I don’t really have much to say, although surprisingly enough, I was very much put off by the last scene when the Marx Brothers’ characters chase Beatrice (Verea). I know that several old Hollywood movies make people side eye them (well, current movies too) but to see a woman express her want for a romance and have to run away from three lustful men scared me. I knew that it was meant to be comical, but I found it so disturbing and frightening that it left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Random, but it was amusing to see Sig Ruman play a Nazi because I will forever associate him with Colonel Ehrhardt from To Be or Not to Be.

IMDb Link: A Night in Casablanca

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Tuesday - February 4th, 2014
Pi ; 1998

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Actors: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman
Country: U.S.A.

I was very surprised that I enjoyed this movie. Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about what kind of movies I like. I know that for the most part, my genre of choice is romantic comedy and that I prefer narrative films, so I figured that I like anything that is mainstream and easy to watch. When I was in high school and during part of my college days, I suffered from special snowflake syndrome and wanted to watch obscure movies that no one knew about or cared for non-linear and foreign films. Part of that phase did stem from me being interested in them, but my intentions weren’t very pure and I think I cared more about the cool points than actually educating myself. Anyway, it’s been awhile since I watched anything that was “challenging” (unless Quentin Tarantino’s works falls into that category) and to my surprise, I enjoyed Pi immensely. I think it’s the editing style that kept my attention the entire time because the quick cuts and close ups made it feel as if the pace of the movie was going faster. I also liked that technique in another Aronofsky film, Requiem for a Dream (2000), because I think that it made habits look cold and calculated, which for the most part they are because we always do certain things a certain way at a certain time.

As for the story, it was captivating for me because it was about a man’s search to find out a pattern behind the stock market and the obsessive quest is enjoyable (uh… painful?) to watch. I liked seeing how this obsession ruins Max’s (Gullette) physical body and his mental state and how his search for an explanation runs him into trouble. The closer he gets to the truth behind the numbers, the more he cannot handle it physically or mentally because perhaps it is as if he is playing with fire and his headaches and paranoia are all signs for him to back off something that is beyond his control. The way the movie played out and how it ended reminded me of people’s quest to understanding the world and believing in God. Whether or not I believe in God or believe people should believe in God is beyond the point of the post, but when I talk to people who believe in God or even just a higher being, many say that it is faith and that it’s not about trying to find an explanation for everything. Believing in God gives them a sense of lightness and comfort, and it reminded me of how Max ends up in the end. I see Max as finally being content once he gives up trying to find numbers/explanations for everything and can just enjoy being. Or maybe he’s content because he finally understood the numbers and also because he has learned to stop thinking about it and just accepting whatever he has learned in his quest.
What happens to Max also reminded me of how someone’s identity is shaped and how one’s interests become tied to one’s identity. For Max, his obsession with his quest to find the pattern in the stock market becomes his identity. He has nothing other than this quest and his quest is his identity and it physically manifests itself as well through the headaches and the paranoia. He is one with the numbers, just as he said about being the one who was chosen to understand the number sequence. What I liked was that the film medium allows the viewers to only know about Max in relation to numbers and we don’t know how he is outside of the scenes we see of him. This allows the viewers to once again associate Max’s identity to numbers. I think what’s so great is that this movie is so visibly shot on film that one can’t help but be aware of all this. And speaking of that, I absolutely love the look of this movie.

On a side note, I also couldn’t help like the film since it mentions the Kabbalah because in my favourite manga series, X, the Kabbalah is shown in the artwork and also in connection to the tech savvy character, Satsuki. Sort of a connection to this movie, ey?

IMDb Link: Pi

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Monday - January 20th, 2014
Jackie Brown ; 1997

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Actors: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro
Country: U.S.A.

Someone told me that this Quentin Tarantino movie was a movie that non-Tarantino fans were a fan of. I think the person told me this because I probably mentioned that I’m not a Tarantino fan but here is the deal: I’ve enjoyed every single Tarantino film that I’ve watched but I’m too much of a pretentious person to just out-right say that I’m a fan. Actually, nix that: last month, I declared that I am a Tarantino fan. I don’t even know what my own deal is and why I stupidly refused to say that I’m a fan of his works even though I like his movies so much. Well, I don’t know why non-Tarantino fans see Jackie Brown as something different but it sure wasn’t anything different for me because I enjoyed watching this movie just as much as I enjoyed watching any Tarantino picture.

As usual, the script and casting was excellent, which I take as a given for any Tarantino movie. Like Ernst Lubitsch, I see Tarantino as a director who puts the oomph in their pictures through a superb script and a great cast. Cinematically, I would say that both directors are on par (for me) because while the effects of the mise-en-scène and camera movement isn’t overt, watching any of their films closely makes one more aware of how much control they have over every aspect of their picture and how knowledgeable they are of the filmic language. Of course, Tarantino has a more non-traditional approach to story telling and editing, but I never found his movies to be jarring or difficult to follow. Surprisingly enough, I find his editing style quite easy to follow and even though scenes may be shown in a non-linear fashion, I can’t think of any other way those scenes should have been shot. For example, in Jackie Brown, the Billingsley bag switch segment was PERFECT. By showing what happens to the four different character in succession through each character’s perspectives, you pick up bits and pieces of what’s going on and eventually, everything makes sense. When I saw Jackie (Grier) coming out of the dressing room all frantic, I didn’t understand what was going on. Did something go wrong? Did I miss something? And why did she leave that bag behind? But after I saw Max (Forster) pick up the bag and then saw Jackie using her supposed frazzled state of mind as an alibi at the police station, I was like, “OHHHHHHHHH! It all makes sense!”

And another thing, how could I dislike a movie that shows lipstick that has been rubbed off from a kiss? All in all, definitely liked this movie and would recommend it to anyone. I’m starting to wonder if there is going to be a Tarantino film that I dislike. Oh wait, there is only one more to watch. TIME WILL TELL.

IMDb Link: Jackie Brown

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Thursday - January 9th, 2014
Pitch Perfect ; 2012

Director: Jason Moore
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson
Country: U.S.A.

I had to think a lot about this movie and what I would write about. At one point, I wanted to just post “WTF” in big letters, but then I figured that I’d regret writing that when I look back at my entries because I wouldn’t remember why I wrote “WTF”. It would be like the time when I looked back at diaries I’ve written when I was in elementary school and I’d see entries that said, “I’m so mad right now that I’m not even going to write about it because I’m so angry.” Now I look at those entries and wonder what I was so mad about.

While watching this movie, the only thoughts I had throughout the entire film was, “What in the world? What is this? Is this real? WTFWTFWTFWTF.” I couldn’t understand this movie at all and I didn’t get why. I wasn’t sure if this movie was a comedy or what because I think I chuckled nervously throughout the movie. It was just THERE and my brain couldn’t make head or tail out of it. I was still very confused by it for several days and one day, while I was sitting in a tub, singing very badly, several thoughts about this movie popped up. I started to wonder if my brain was so used to thinking, “ANALYZE ANALYZE ANALYZE” that I couldn’t relax and enjoy it. Another thought was that I watched so many old films that I’m stuck in the bygone era and can’t understand contemporary comedy. I remember thinking that the dialogue was crude and I disliked a lot of the jokes, which made me think that I was unconsciously comparing old comedic films to current ones. Some would attribute it to political correctness but many of the jokes rubbed me the wrong way, which surprised me because I didn’t think that I was an overly politically correct person. I don’t think that I was being snotty while watching this movie and I wasn’t planning on comparing it to other movies as well, but this movie came from left field and I had no idea what was going on and how to digest it. Even my raging dislike for a cappella didn’t overcome this confusion by making me think an irrational thought such as, “I HATE THIS FILM BECAUSE OF A CAPPELLA, END OF STORY.”

Another thing that startled me was that I felt that many aspects of the movie, particularly sets (location?), camera movement, and acting was like a B-movie. It was hokey, borderline bad, and the only thing that made it visually good was the crisp quality of the picture and the colors. When I say colors, I don’t mean a beautiful or brilliant use of them, à la Sirk, but that everything was evenly lit so the colors looked nice, like a nice family photo.

And I just have to add, I really, REALLY detested Bumper (DeVine). I guess I can’t hate on Adam DeVine because he was successful at making me want to punch Bumper in the face, but his character was like Barry in High Fidelity (2000), except that I grew to tolerate Barry but I never grew to tolerate Bumper. I know that he’s supposed to be a character to either dislike or laugh with, but I found him overbearingly obnoxious that I wondered how DeVine could make a character so annoying.

I’m still not too sure why I was so thrown by this film, but I can say that I don’t want to rewatch it on my own time. If my friends all agreed and said that they wanted to watch it, sure I’ll watch it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t think it was a huge waste of time and maybe if I do rewatch it, I might like it immensely, but my first impression of this movie was bewilderment, which is a feeling that I have never gotten from a film until this one.

IMDb Link: Pitch Perfect

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