Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sullivan's Travels

Seen this before in my "trying to appreciate filmmakers that my favorite filmmakers like" series (The Coen Brothers). Have to say I liked the Lady Eve more than this, regardless of the classic status of this in Sturges' oeuvre. The actors felt much more naturalistic in that over Sullivan's. And the ending came off as a ton more cornball in this. Overall, not as modern feeling as the Lady Eve. Lana Turner was pretty hot in this though, but kind of freaked me out dressed as the hobo. Which brings me to another sticking point. The hoboing up of Joel McCrea was retarded, and if hobos had some kind of advocacy group they would totally boycott this. But, the O' Brother Where Art Thou fake title was pretty genius, regardless of Sturges stealing that from the Coens too.

Singin' in the Rain

I was really dreading this, as I hate most musicals. The dance routines in this felt pretty repetitive. (How many times can you tap dance and flail your arms and differentiate the whole mess, really?) But, the transitions in this were great. And the pace towards the end, working up to a frenzied, nightmarish dance orgy, was perfect. So, not the best movie ever, and an annoying musical none the less. But an interesting film, technically speaking.

Pulp Fiction

This is the movie made me start making movies. I was 14 when this came out, and thought it was the coolest thing ever, and promptly starting making knockoffs of it with my friends. I'm sure every filmmaker has one of those movies, and this was it for me. It still stands up pretty well today, especially script and acting wise. An important movie for me in that it really pushed me into filmmaking and led me to watch other stuff it was influenced by.


Meh. Interesting that Paul Schrader cited this as the main influence for Taxi Driver, since we're talking influences. I can definitely see that, as it's just a dude in a room most of the time operating on the outskirts of society. But, didn't really move me. File under boring, foundation-laying movie.


Again, the transitions in this film make the movie for me. Added to the fact that they had to do everything in camera. Very cool. Re-watching for the list.

Citizen Kane

This is one of those movies that I'm supposed to like, and that I do really like, and that every time I watch it I like more. I paid attention to the pacing of the scenes this time, and the building of the story within the stories. I guess the theme of the film, the way you can build a character through other people's interpretations of them. Genius movie.


I watched this after Citizen Kane intentionally, as this directly takes from Kane's formatting. I'm not as interested in the subject matter, but the formatting is used to great effect in this film. In the Altman intro, he spoke about how this was the first movie he'd ever seen that pointed the camera up (the sun through the trees). Pretty neat.


Favorite Oliver Stone movie. This still scares the shit out of me, and I watched it late one night when Megan was out of town and scared myself. I couldn't go to sleep. Anyways, great editing and ability to get a ton of information across pretty clearly. You never have a hard time following or keeping up, despite large amounts of info being presented during the film's entire runtime. Oh, and this film is 100% right. Don't be an asshole and disagree.


One of my favorite movies. But not my favorite Coen Bros. film. Perfect movie, though. I recently saw this poster for the first time, and it's amazing.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, or as depressing I should say. But I also don't feel like it said enough. It was kind of just there and then ended. The P.O.V. stuff was well done, and they got away with doing it for so long at the beginning of the film, but I felt the whole thing ultimately kind of just...lay there.


It Happened One Night

For some reason, I'm a sucker for a really good romantic comedy. I could see myself doing one someday. It's very easy to do terrible, formulaic ones, but when it works I really like them. This one, When Harry Met Sally, sue me. I love how Clark Gable keeps telling her how to do things or bragging about how much of an expert he is at stupid little things like giving piggy-back rides or hitchhiking. Hysterical.

The Godfather

I don't know, the second best movie ever after Godfather II. I finally read the book last year some time, and kind of wished they'd done some more of the Johnny Fontane storyline with the Vegas girl who gets the vaginal reconstruction surgery. I basically wish those movies were 20 hours longer. I guess I should just read the rest of the books.

Fellini Satyricon

Um... wow. What the fuck was this? Not a big fan of art films that go nowhere, and this felt like the king of them all, but glad I finally saw it. The film's influenced less crazed films that worked twenty times better, so I guess it's good that this exists and goes as far as it does so it's not necessary for anyone else to ever do it again.


"They put a sign on 'em!?!"


This is a great movie, but I was a little bored with it this time, as I've seen it way too many times growing up. I think Gilliam's stuff works best when it's a weird little surprise.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Sometimes you just don't learn until your much older that your dad is a stone cold dog killer. Sometimes you find out the truth when you're 6 years old. It's all a part of growing up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The List: Week Two

The Leopard

The idea behind this was cool, but the execution was BORINGGGGG! Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it? The film shows Sicilian society in transition from a monarchy to its annexation into Italy. Burt Lancaster is dubbed in an Italian film, which was kind of off-putting. And while I got a definite sweeping "Gone With the Wind" kind of vibe from the costumes and cinematography, there was nothing in the characters to really keep my interest.

I had a hard time finishing because the characters were so flat, and watched it in several parts over the course of a couple of days. I think for something like this to work, and to be able to pull off the long running time, you really need to go big with the characters and melodrama, otherwise it feels limp. I thought the setting was a really cool point in history that I didn't know much about, and was interested in that part of the story. But I could of read a book on it too and not fallen asleep as much as I did during this monstrosity. I'm sure people in Italy and Sicily are still sore over the unification today, as Europeans never forget a slight regardless of if they were actually present or know anyone who was present during the period. Vendetta!!!

Wikipedia entry on Il Risorgimento:

Italian unification (Italian: il Risorgimento, or "The Resurgence") was the political and social movement that annexed different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century. There is a lack of consensus on the exact dates for the beginning and the end of this period, but many scholars agree that the process began with the end of Napoleonic rule and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and approximately ended with the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, though the last città irredente did not join the Kingdom of Italy until after World War I.

The Conformist

This was another film that took me a bit to get warmed up to it, but then I really got into it and ended up loving it. This is the foundation for "The Godfather I & II" in cinematography and mood. The pacing is great, the tracking shots are awesome and the scene in the woods works so well and is such a great climax. Reminded me as well of "Miller's Crossing", which I'm sure this visually influenced, the woods scene in particular. The moral dilemma that the main character is going through works great, and has no real "right" answer. Or no easy one, at least. The main character is also quasi molested at one point, which I thought added another interesting facet to his character. Really just a interesting look at surviving within a fascist regime, and what it pushes you or allows you to do.


I've seen bits of this over the years, but finally sat down and watched it in full. I can see the importance of the influence on later work, and on the Cinema Verite style in general, and I thought it was a great example of low budget filmmaking. Otherwise, felt it was a bit stretched and wasn't really into it. Definitely glad I finally watched it in full, have no real interest of seeing it again. Though it made me want to see some of Godard's other films. Alphaville sounds cool.

The Long Goodbye

This was great. I loved the idea of taking Chandler's books and the genre itself, and twisting it to a more modern sensibility. It still works within the idea of Marlowe and the detective story, but throwing in Atlman's touches was great. Loved all of the mumbling Marlowe does when he's alone, which is a cool technique of getting exposition and interior dialogue generically done in voiceovers out fluidly.

Ebert: "Most of its effect comes from the way it pushes against the genre, and the way Altman undermines the premise of all private eye movies, which is that the hero can walk down mean streets, see clearly, and tell right from wrong."

Watched M*A*S*H shortly after and laughed hysterically. Altman's the man. Love his zooms, especially in this. Though there were some good ones in "The Long Goodbye" (Sterling Hayden killing himself in the background as Marlowe and his wife talk about him).

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

This was the very difficult subjects of growing old/ youth vs. elder views/ WWII vs. WWI modes of combat/ different thoughts on honor done right. The character is set up as a dodgy old man out of touch with modern thoughts on war, and thought to have an older sense of principles and honor code, shown in an extended flashback of how he got to that point. His life experiences that made him the man that the younger generation ridicules. It also shows him unwilling to stoop to the Nazi's level in warfare and that not all German's were Nazi's or in line with their thinking. Very powerful points presented behind a warm and humorously produced film, and released during WWII. Very cool that they were able and willing to make this film during a difficult time when you were expected and permitted to shut up and hate the enemy.

Bridge on the River Kwai

Beautiful film, kind of in step with Colonel Blimp. At least with the stiff British soldier bit. Re-watching for the list.

The Searchers

Badass film. Re-watching for the list.

The Fountainhead

This was fucking great! Never read the book, but I definitely will now. I love crazy industrialists striking out on their own (seen most recently in "There Will Be Blood" and "The Aviator") and this film goes down in history for the most ranting and speechifying crazy industrialist ever. There's not a scene in this film where he's not lecturing someone on how independent, self-serving, and self-reliant he is and I loved it. Gary Cooper hates a society that would tell him no or try to make him a sheep inline with the rest of the masses, and goddammit, I do too! Fuck you people with lame taste, Gary Cooper's going to make his buildings wildly modern, and if you had any sense you'd accept them!

Also, thought it was interesting that Rand wrote the script herself, which makes sense with every second being a 10 minute long speech she wouldn't let anyone cut or she'd murder them. You can certainly tell.


Always liked Psycho more than this one, but I think this might have overtaken it on this viewing. I really just love how thinly veiled this movie is for Hitchcock's sick fetishes. The man was a diseased genius.