Tuesday, May 24, 2016

#577 Beau Travail

While there are some visually interesting parts in this movie, I have to admit that I found this movie boring. A lot of it is shots of the legionnaires training, and there's not a lot of dialogue. This was also probably the most normal character that I've seen Denis Lavant play. I've previously seen him in a few Leos Carax films, which have all been pretty strange (especially Holy Motors), as well as A Very Long Engagement and that movie where he played a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Here he plays an ex-officer in the French Foreign Legion who looks back on his time in Africa. This film doesn't really have a story, which is probably why it didn't keep my interest. I also wasn't interested in any of the characters.

#576 All That Heaven Allows

I loved both "Written on the Wind" and "Imitation of Life," which were also directed by Douglas Sirk, so that is the main reason for wanting to see this film. While I like the other two better, I did like this film as well. It is about a widow with two grown kids who falls in love with the much younger man who trims her trees. She comes from a very gossipy, snobbish world, and while she pretends that she doesn't care what people think, she lets the people around her convince her to break off her engagement with the man she loves. I found myself getting very angry at her children, especially her son. He makes a big deal about how she must only like him for his muscles and how dare she want to give up their home that's been in their family for years. Then, after she breaks up with Rock Hudson, he tells her that the house is too big for one person and that she should sell it. Eventually, she realizes that her kids are a bunch of selfish jerks, and gets back together with him, but since this is a Douglas Sirk melodrama, he, of course, has to get in an accident first.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#575 Caravaggio

I didn't know anything about Caravaggio before I saw this movie, and now that I've watched it, I still don't know anything, except that he was an Italian painter. This movie is about Caravaggio (obviously) who is dying and looking back on his life, and the man he loved (played by a sexy young Sean Bean). I thought that since an image of Dexter Fletcher as young Caravaggio is used in all of the posters I've seen for this film, it would be switching back and forth between young Caravaggio and older Caravaggio. That, however, was not the case, and Dexter Fletcher was only in one scene.
I thought that the look of this film was very cool, and that the use of lighting and colors made it look like an Italian painting from that time period. I'm guessing it was the director's intent to make the film look like a Caravaggio painting. Since the only Caravaggio paintings I've seen are in this film, I can't really say if that is the case or not.
My one major criticism about this movie is that I don't think it spent enough time on the relationships between Caravaggio and Sean Bean as well as Caravaggio and Lena. At the end when he is extremely upset about her death, and when Sean Bean's character reveals that he killed her in the name of love, both events seem out of nowhere. Up until that moment, I didn't think that Sean Bean's character even cared about Caravaggio. I thought that he was just pretending to be interested to make Lena jealous. I also want to mention how damn good looking Sean Bean is in this movie. Every time he was on screen I couldn't take my eyes off of him.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

#574 Zero For Conduct

Naughty kids! This movie is about a group of kids at an all-boys school who make a plan to rebel against their strict teachers, who are always giving them "zero for conduct" and Sunday detentions. One of their teachers is also a total creep who seems like a pedophile. It was very controversial when it was originally released, and was apparently banned for over ten years, but I thought that this film was a little anti-climactic. There's all of this build-up, where the boys are talking about their plans, and the night before, one of the boys makes this big speech, and all they really do is go on the roof and throw a bunch of stuff at their teachers. Then, the boys run to the edge of the roof and....jump? Fly away? I'm not really sure. There's definitely some surrealist influence in this movie, like in a scene when one of the teachers (the one the boys actually like) finishes a drawing and it suddenly becomes animated.

#573 L'atalante

I didn't know anything about this movie before I started watching it, so I had no idea what to expect. I ended up really liking it! It is about this young couple who gets married, he is a boat captain and she wants to get away from her tiny village and see Paris. When they get to Paris, however, the ship's first mate uses this time to see a fortune teller and steal parts for his gramophone, so she never gets to see the sights. So, at their next stop, she leaves the boat to see Paris, and her husband gets so upset that he decides to take off and leave her behind. He immediately regrets this decision, and becomes so depressed that his first mate leaves to find her. This movie has a lot of great scenes, including the scene with the street peddler who pays so much attention to the wife that the husband gets jealous, and a scene that is surprisingly sexy, considering the time period, where the husband and wife are apart, yet clearly thinking of each other when they are in their beds. I also really liked the nutty first mate character. He was like an overgrown child, with all of his cats and his cabin filled with toys, including his super creepy puppet. He also has a jar with his dead friend's hands in it, and his body is covered with these poorly drawn tattoos. Every scene with him was great to watch.

#572 The Woman In The Dunes

I was really conflicted while watching this movie. Part of me really wanted him to escape, but the other part of me really wanted him to stay with her. In the end, I guess I sort of got both. The Woman in the Dunes is about a teacher go goes to the dunes to collect bugs and ends up getting kidnapped by local villagers and forced to stay in this house at the bottom of a sand pit with this woman, so that he can help her with her job of shoveling sand. Naturally, he is pissed off at first and ties her up, but eventually he unties her and they wind up sleeping together. I felt really bad for the woman because even though it is clear that she is interested in the outside world (she is obsessed with getting a radio and constantly finds reasons to bring up Tokyo), she refuses to leave because her husband and daughter are buried somewhere in the sand. So in the scene when he manages to escape, I can't help but feel bad for her even though I was happy that he found a way out of that sand pit. Unfortunately for him, he winds up getting lost, falling in some quicksand, and gets rescued by his kidnappers who make him go back in the sand pit. He is still obsessed with escaping, and even makes a crow trap so that he can tie a message to its leg, but his crow trap ends up pumping water from underground, and even though he is trying to leave, he works to make it better. In the end, we find out that she is about to have a child (I don't know why she would keep that a secret because surely that would give him a reason to stay), so the villagers lift her out of the sand pit, and accidentally leave the rope ladder down. I felt so bad for her when they were lifting her out of the pit. She kept saying "No" over and over again and you could just tell that she was terrified of both leaving the pit, and that he might escape again. The man does climb up the rope ladder and spends some time by the sea, but climbs back down in the pit and we find out that he is still there seven years later. This movie reminded me a little of Pedro Almodovar's "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" Both kidnap victims escape, but they end up returning to their kidnappers. Throughout this movie, I was never really sure if the man actually cared for the woman, especially during the rather disturbing scene when he tries to rape her in front of all of the villagers because that's the only way that would let him see the sea for an hour. In the end though, you can tell that he does care for her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#571 The Tin Drum

What a bizzaro movie! I'm currently reading this book about controversial/ banned films, and this was the first one that was mentioned, which of course made me want to watch it. Apparently police even came to the houses of people who rented the film and confiscated it. The Tin Drum is about a boy (Oskar) who decides that he is going to stop growing at the age of three. He even throws himself down the stairs so that his parents have something to blame for it. He is also overly attached to his tin drum and screams whenever anyone tries to take it away from him. (His screams can break glass!) This film has the same actor playing Oskar from the time he is born to when he is in his early twenties. Apparently the actor was 12/13 years old, so he isn't really believable as a three year old, and this also makes his scenes when he's supposed to be older somewhat disturbing. When he is supposed to be around 16, he falls in love with this girl named Maria, and eventually has sex with her. This is what the majority of the controversy of this film was about. You don't see the actor during the actual sex scene, just a figure moving under a blanket, but there are scenes where it is clearly him, including a scene where he licks powder from Maria's belly button. There's also a scene where he see's her naked and runs up to put his face against her privates. I wouldn't call it child pornography, but it is a bit creepy.

There were some great scenes, like when Oskar hides under the bleachers during a Nazi rally and bangs on his drum so that the Nazi drummers get off beat and messes up all of the musicians. There was also really disturbing scenes, like when a fisherman reels in a horse's head and we see a bunch of eels slither out of it. GROSS! Then Oskar's father (?) takes some home and cooks them for dinner. One thing I couldn't really figure out was whether or not Oskar's mother's husband knew about her and her cousin's (who was mostly like Oskar's real father) affair. At the beginning I was sure that he knew about them, but by the end I couldn't tell.