Saturday, September 27, 2014

#555 Shock Corridor

This fellows ambition was a bit too much for him. Shock Corridor is about a man who wants to win the Pulitzer Prize, so he has his girlfriend pretend to be his sister and say that he keeps trying to have sex with her, so that he can be put in a mental institution in order to solve a murder. So of course, the crazy environment and the shock treatments make him actually go crazy, and he ends the movie as a catatonic schizophrenic. The most interesting character in the movie was the black KKK guy. He was the only black guy in an all white university, and was clearly driven insane by all of the racist people who didn't want him going to that school. The way he was introduced was great.

At first you just see this sign with all of this incredibly racist stuff on it, and you just think, "Ugh, I hate this character already," and then it lowers and reveals that its being carried by black man. He talks about the KKK and has his little white mask thingy, and even starts a little race riot and chases a black orderly. Later in the movie we find out that he was made that way from all of the harassment he faced for attending a college with white students. It's actually really sad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#554 The Grapes of Wrath

I read this book about ten years ago, and there are only two parts from the book that I really remember. The part when this woman lets them buy candy for two for a penny, and the ending when Rose-of-Sharon's baby is stillborn and she breastfeeds a starving man in a barn. This movie showed the first part exactly how I remember from the book, but since this was the 1940s, they didn't even have a scene that implied the ending of the book. Instead, the movie has more of a hopeful ending. This movie makes me really glad that I do not live during the Great Depression. The scene when Ma Joad is cooking for her family and this big group of starving children come asking for food is so sad! The Joad clan has to worry about starvation and family members dying and local people who want to keep the "Okies" out, all so they can go to California, even though they know that there aren't any more jobs. Henry Fonda is great as always as Tom Joad. He is always great at playing hero, and you can't help but root for him. I watched this movie earlier where he played a prisoner who kills a priest so he can escape prison, but you still wanted him to get away with it! He was also terribly handsome when he was young, so that might also have something to do with it...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#553 The Player

The Player stars Tim Robbins as a Hollywood executive who starts getting threatening postcards. He spends his days listening to writers give terrible movie pitches, so he is convinced that he is being threatened by one of these writers. After following one of them to the movies, he ends up killing him, but it turns out that this writer is not the one who was writing to him. So, not only does he have to worry about a murder investigation, but he is also continuing to get these postcards. He also starts seeing the girlfriend of the writer he killed. We never do find out who was sending him the postcards, but he ends up blackmailing Robbins into making a movie about the events in exchange for a happy ending.
This movie is filled with cameos from actual movie stars like Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Andie McDowell, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, and Cher. There are so many cameos, I kept getting confused about who was playing themselves and who was playing a character. Like when I first saw Whoopi Goldberg, I assumed she was playing herself, but she's actually playing a police officer. Also, I love that for one of the movies that was pitched, the writer kept insisting that the movie not have stars and that he wanted the woman character to die, and at the end when they show a screening of the movie it stars Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis, and he comes in and saves her at the last minute.

Monday, September 22, 2014

#552 The Conversation

The Conversation is about an audio surveillance worker who becomes obsessed with this conversation that he recorded between this young couple. He listens to the tapes over and over again, and particularly fixates on the phrase "he'd kill us if he had the chance." He believes that this means that the couple are in danger, so he refuses to hand over the tapes to The Director, the man who hired him. His obsession with the tapes, combined with the guilt over the death of people involved with a previous surveillance case he worked on, makes him go a little nutty. He starts having bad dreams, and starts seeing things including blood gushing out of the toilet, and the young woman's murder, which turns out to never have happened. He is so convinced that they are in danger that he fails to see what is actually happening, which is that the young couple were planning to kill The Director.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

#551 Children of a Lesser God

I have liked every single one of the films I've seen that William Hurt starred in during the 1980s. This includes Body Heat, The Big Chill, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, and now Children of a Lesser God. In Children of a Lesser God he plays a speech teacher at a school for the deaf. While there, he falls in love with the school's janitor, played by the fabulous Marlee Matlin, who is also the youngest person ever to win the Best Actress Oscar. She is a former student who refused to learn how to speak after being teased about it as a child. At the beginning, you think that the movie is going to be about Hurt's character helping her to stop be so stubborn and learn to speak, but it is instead about him having to learn to respect her choice not to speak. Hurt is great as usual, but the actor who really stands out in this film is Marlee Matlin. She is great as the angry and stubborn Sara, who tries to close herself off from her emotions for fear of "shriveling up and blowing away." There is a part in this movie where she actually does speak, and it is the most heartbreaking moment of the whole film. She gets so frustrated that Hurt keeps trying to get her to speak, she screams at him instead. There is another great scene with Matlin and Piper Laurie, which is when Sara sees her mom for the first time in eight years.

#550 L'Age d'Or

This is one of Bunuel's surrealistic films, so there is a lot of really bizarre stuff happening. The beginning and ending scenes in the movie have nothing at all to do with the rest of it, except that they apparently happened a few hours before the start of the main story and at the same time as the ending of the main story. Well, since this film is surrealism, there isn't really a story, but L'Age d'Or is essentially about a man and a woman who are super horny. It seems like everything that they see reminds them of sex, and when they try to have sex with each other, they keep getting interrupted. This movie has a lot of pretty odd scenes, like when the man looks at an advertisement and it makes him think of the woman masturbating,  and the scene after they get interrupted for the second time, the woman decides to perform fellatio on a statue's toe. I guess she gets tired of waiting for the man because she ends up dumping him for the orchestra conductor, which makes him angry, so he takes all of the feathers out of his pillow and starts throwing stuff out of the window, including a guy dressed like the pope and a giant giraffe statue. The people in this film are also really short tempered. In one scene, the man slaps this old woman in the face because she spills a little wine on his suit. In another scene, a man shoots a little boy (twice!) because the boy knocked something out of his hand. While this movie has a little more of a plot than Un Chien Andalou, it is just as bizarre.

#549 Cinema Paradiso

I loved loved loved this movie! I've always been a big fan of movies about movies, including Singin' in the Rain and Hugo, and this is another great movie that I can add to that list. Cinema Paradiso is about a film director named Salvatore (nickname Toto) who looks back on his life after he finds out that his friend Alfredo died. Alfredo was the projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso, the local movie theater. Toto went to the theater all the time and learned how to work the projector as well as started a collection of film strips (mostly kissing scenes) that Alfredo was ordered to cut out of films by the town's priest. After a freak accident leaves Alfredo blind, Toto becomes the new projectionist, and works there until Alfredo convinces him to leave and do something with his life. There is also a pretty cute love story when Toto is older with him and this pretty girl he sees at the station. As a massive film lover, I really appreciated this film and how it showed how excited people used to be about going to the movies. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, which this movie also shows when the Cinema Paradiso gets demolished at the end. It was so sad!!! I also really loved the ending of the movie, when Toto splices together his collection of kissing scenes and watches them on the big screen.

One of the kisses, which appears at about :22 looks like it's from "His Girl Friday," but I have never seen that before! Did the priest cut out parts from my DVD as well? 

#548 David Holzman's Diary

This movie is about David Holzman, a guy who gets fired from his job and then decides to start filming his life in order to find "the truth." Unfortunately, as soon as he starts his video diary, his life starts to get even worse. His girlfriend is totally unhappy with being filmed and ends up dumping him. Throughout the movie we also see what a creep this guy is. He not only films his nude girlfriend while she sleeps, but he also films his female neighbor through her window. One time he even calls her so that he can get another glimpse of her. Slowly he starts to realize that he is not getting what he wants from filming himself. There is even a scene where he is yelling at his camera and sound recorder saying "Why aren't you working!?" His documentary eventually ends when someone breaks into his apartment and steals his camera equipment, which we find out by listening to an audio recording he made that is accompanied by photos.
Interesting fact: watching this movie unintentionally continued my little Vincent Price marathon (yesterday I watched The House of Seven Gables and Masque of the Red Death and today I watched Witchfinder General) because there is a montage of all the shows he watched one day, and you see glimpses of Price as Egghead on Batman.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#547 12 Angry Men

This movie never lost my attention for a moment. Pretty much the entire movie takes place in a single room, and yet this is one of the most tense movies I have ever seen. It is about these 12 jurors who have to make the decision about whether or not to send this 18 year old kid to the electric chair. He has all of this evidence against him, including eyewitness testimony, so it seems like an open and shut case, but Juror #8 is not convinced. He never claims that the boy is innocent, he just says that there is reasonable doubt to whether is guilty. Throughout the movie he convinces more and more of the jurors, and they all slowly start to realize that the evidence wasn't as strong as they all believed. Henry Fonda is great in this movie, like he was in everything else I've seen him in. He is always great at playing the noble soft-spoken hero. I remember when I saw him in "The Wrong Man" where he played a man wrongfully accused of robbery, and that was one of the most stressful film watching experiences of my life. Henry Fonda would never do something like that! He is the ultimate good guy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

#546 Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

This movie isn't really about Aileen Wuornos or her crimes, but is about the people around her who were capitalizing on her fame. There were the crooked cops who were involved with movie deals, her creep lawyer who seemed more interested in promoting his music career than saving her life, and her awful adopted mom, who conveniently adopts Wuornos (who is basically her same age) before her first trial and has an agent to negotiate her appearance fees. There are a lot of scenes in this movie that just left me with an uneasy feeling. There's a scene when a cop gives a tour of death row and he just talks about the whole process so casually it is really depressing. There's also the scene when the director finally get's to talk to Wuornos and we find out that her "mom" and lawyer were the ones who convinced her to plead guilty and that they were even telling her to kill herself. They just seem like such awful people who were taking advantage of someone who was becoming famous for being the "first female serial killer." What is interesting is that even though the director is pointing all of this stuff out, he isn't really doing anything different. He is also capitalizing on Wuornos' crimes with this documentary.

#545 The Reckless Moment

Instead of the good guy getting seduced by the bad girl like in most film noir, this film has the bad guy falling for the good girl. At the start of the movie, Joan Bennett is telling her daughter's boyfriend that she doesn't want him to see her anymore. He says that he'll stop seeing her for money, but instead of indulging him, she just leaves and tells her daughter about it. Of course her daughter doesn't believe it, but then her boyfriend tells her himself that he does in fact need money. The next morning, Bennett finds him dead, and gets rid of the body in the swamp. After his body is found, James Mason shows up with letters that her daughter wrote to her boyfriend, and tries to blackmail her. The blackmail storyline has been done so many times that I thought this movie would be predictable, but unlike in other blackmail stories, the one doing the blackmailing ends up falling for the person he's blackmailing. I thought it was odd how he was so nice about everything, but then it becomes apparent that he cares about her when he says that he'll give up his share of the money and that she would only have to pay his boss. Mason's character is interesting because he is someone who has always been a bad guy, but decides to be good when he falls in love. Unfortunately, trying to be good leads him to do something worse than anything he had ever done before.

#544 The Fourth Man

When I saw this was one of Verhoeven's Dutch films, I was a little bummed that Rutger Hauer wasn't in it. I ended up liking this one a bit more than Turkish Delight, however, even though that is supposedly the greatest Dutch film of all time. The Fourth Man is about this writer named Gerard who has all of these dark visions of the future and starts sleeping with this woman named Christine even though he is gay. He finds a photo of another one of her lovers (Herman) and recognizes him from the train station. He really wants this guy, so he convinces her to bring him to her house. While she goes to get him, he finds out that she had been married three times before, and when he gets Herman to himself, they end up in a tomb that holds the ashes of her three husbands. He is convinced that she is a black widow, and that either he or Herman will be "the fourth man." I love how you never really find out if she is actually a murderess, so you don't know if Gerard is crazy or not. Throughout the movie he is having dreams about a woman in blue, who he sees everywhere and ends up leading him to the tomb. He also has visions of an eyeball being gouged out and Herman covered in blood, which also ends up happening. If he is having psychic visions, then perhaps it is possible that Christine is a witch. Or perhaps Gerard is insane and there was no woman in blue.

Friday, September 5, 2014

#543 The Big Heat

Film noir is usually pretty dark, but this is one of the darkest I've seen from the genre. After his wife is murdered by a car bomb, a cop decides to take down the crime syndicate who killed her. He becomes obsessive about it and even ends up losing his job. Gloria Grahame plays one of the criminals' girlfriends who gets her face disfigured after one of her boyfriends thugs sees her drive off with the cop. I didn't like her character at first and thought she was kind of annoying. Apparently the part was written for Marilyn Monroe, which would explain why she is such a ditz. I thought she was just going to become a damsel in distress, but instead she decides to get even. She does what the cop couldn't and kills the woman who holds the  evidence against the bad guys (which was set to be released if anything happens to her) then goes to her ex's house and messes up his face the wayhe  messed up hers. Unfortunately she dies, but not before she tells him that she is the reason for his future downfall. I love that they didn't just let her character become a victim.

#542 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Considering that Apocalypse Now is such a classic, it's interesting to see how little faith Francis Ford Coppola had in himself while making the film. He was so stressed out about the film that he was even saying that he wanted to kill himself!  It's crazy how much stuff went down during the making of Apocalypse Now. They used helicopters from the Filipino military, and they would just take off with them in the middle of shooting because a civil war was going on. Poor Martin Sheen had a heart attack in the middle of shooting and Coppola had to deal with Dennis Hooper being all stoned and not knowing his lines. He was so sure that this movie was going to turn out awful, but it is now considered to be one of the best films ever made.

Monday, September 1, 2014

#541 Blackmail

After this, I only have two more Hitchcock films to go. After I watch Shadow of a Doubt and Frenzy, I will have watched all of the Hitchcock films in the book. This is the earliest of his films that I have seen. I have never seen any of his silent films, and this is his first talkie. Apparently this was the first sound picture for England, and they decided to make it a talkie after they had already started production. You can tell because the first 10 minutes are silent. I don't know why they didn't just go back and dub the scenes. They end up feeling out of place. Blackmail is about a woman who stabs to death a man who tries to rape her. Her boyfriend is a detective, and he recognizes her glove at the man's apartment, so he knows that it was her and after he confronts her about it, this other man comes up to them with her other glove and decides to blackmail them. There are some interesting scenes like when she is sitting at the table listening to someone talking and the only word she hears is "knife," which is getting louder and louder the longer the woman talks, but I started losing interest in this movie about half way through. I love Alfred Hitchcock, and I've never seen a movie of his that I have not liked, but I think that this was my least favorite one so far. I wasn't interested in the characters at all, and I didn't think that the plot was that interesting.