Annie Hall (AFI #35)

“Here’s another one I was a bit apprehensive about going into it. I’ve never particularly cared for Woody Allen. One of my so-called friends back in high school was pretty obsessive over him (Woody Allen : so-called friend :: Quentin Tarantino : Me) so I was forced to watch many of his films. At the point where it’d became clear that I just wasnt gonna get it, I tried as hard as I could to just fall asleep until it was over. I just didnt understand his humor, and I found him to be awkard to the point of being painful. Now, there have been some that I enjoyed, though I should point out I chose to watch those entirely of my own volition: Everyone Says I Love You and Vicky Christina Barcelona. However, I never really felt the need to give them a second viewing. I think I can add Annie Hall to that list.

Annie Hall has been heralded as Allen’s best, and I can see why. All of his signature idiosyncrasies just fit perfectly. The witty dialogue and references weren’t overly obscure. Im always in favor of talking to the audience, and I found those bits to be just brilliant.

This is another one of those, that Im glad to see so I can finally understand all of the references in other films and such. The one in particular that stands out is That 70’s Show using the “”removed”” bit. Maybe now when I hear someone mention Annie Hall I’ll actually picture Diane Keaton in the hat, vest, and tie instead of Laura Prepon.

Overall I’d say this was a win. Just dont expect me to turn into an actual Woody Allen fan, but I’ll at least not be so quick to dismiss the idea of watching other films of his.”

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (AFI #73)

“Hey I finally stayed awake thru a late Saturday AFI movie. Prolly could attribute that to two reasons. 1-I didnt pick a 3 hour movie this time. B-I really didnt pay much attention to the second half :-\

Its not really the movie’s fault that it lost me. I just have trouble getting into westerns. I was more interested in reading Paul Newman’s IMDB trivia than the long horse rides and chase scenes. Speaking of Newman, he’s another one I’ve only recently started to get familiar with. I watch Cool Hand Luke for the first time a couple weeks ago, and between that and this Im now starting to understand why he’s such a movie icon.

So yeah, I did like the cast. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and even Katherine Ross (I just found out that she was Dr Thurman in Donnie Darko) were all fantastic. The other thing I found interesting was the soundtrack. Struck me as odd at first how they were using contemporary songs, but it actually worked quite well. Kinda made the movie a bit more approachable I guess.

Anyhoo, the plan is to get two more in later today. Haven’t decided which two yet.”

The Last Station

“This movie made EW’s list of 25 movies to see before the Oscars. Wasn’t too sold on it from the trailer, so I figured I’d hold out until the nods were out. Given that it got two acting nods, and seeing it would mean I’ve seen all of the nominated performances I figured I’d best get my butt over to the theater. Luckily it opened at Coolige Corner this week, so I didnt have that much of a trek. While on the subject of the EW list, should point out that I’m at 23 of 25. Not much interest in the last two (Young Victoria and Bright Star) since they didnt really gain any nominations I _really_ care about.

This movie turned out to be quite the happy surprise. I was a bit apprehensive going in since again, trailers didnt impress me, and then I always feel outta place with the matinee crowds at indie theaters. As is usually the case, I was prolly the only one there of my age group, with prolly a 20 year gap to the next youngest. But I found it to be really funny and quite entertaining. I will say that I loved the first half more than the second half. It did kinda start losing me at that point, but the stuff that was good was really \m/ good.

Specifically, the best of that really \m/ good stuff would be Helen Mirren. Such an intense and commanding performance, and a great strong and somewhat quirky character. I see how she earned this year’s Academy Award nomination, and now I hafta see her Oscar winning performance in The Queen. I dont think Last Station woulda been half as good without her.

Also adore James McAvoy. I knew regardless of how the movie ended up, he’d at least be my consolation prize. I just adore that boy, and I have so much respect for his balance between fun films and award winning films. I’ve always loved when an actor can find that perfect harmony between the two sides of Hollywood.

Didnt realize Paul Giamatti was in this one. I was gonna say that he’s always so comfortable in period films, that you’d think he was born in the wrong century. However, I think its more that he’s here now specifically to fit into those films. Not that he doesnt do a good job with films set in the present, but he’s just more at home in the others.

I feel I should say something about Christopher Plummer, in the other Academy Award nominated role, but I dont really have much there. No complaints on his performance, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with it. Yup, no problem conceding that award to Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds.

Anyways, I definitely recommend this one if it seems like your thing. If you’re not into the older-set stuff (which Im typically not) dont feel too obligated to go. But if you are, then this is a must.

The Last Station – \m/ \m/ \m/

Tootsie (AFI #69)

“On schedule for the weekend so far. Woulda written this up just after I finished it, but I didnt wanna feel rushed. This was one of those that I was kinda sad I ended up renting it off Amazon instead of buying. I really would like to see this one again. Doesnt mean I can’t add it to my DVD wishlist though…

I feel like I may be repeating myself from a previous entry, but I’ll say this anyway. Dustin Hoffman has been one of my faves for a while now. One of the many reasons Im really stoked to be doing this AFI project is that I’ve gotten to see him in so many of his iconic roles: The Graudate, Midnight Cowboy, and now Tootsie. This wont be the last of him either. There’s at least one more of his on the list. But he was just fabulous as Dorothy/Michael. When he was in drag, I not only forgot I was watching Hoffman, but I’d even forget I was watching a man. He was just that belivable at it.

Really, the whole thing felt more like I was watching Mrs Doubtfire for the first time than watching one of the films deemed to be the best by the American Film Institute. What I mean by that is that this didnt have that hint of stuffiness or formality that tends to go along with the other movies on the list. It felt more like I went to Blockbuster and grabbed whatever movie intrigued me. Does that make sense?

Great supporting cast. Really liked Bill Murray. It was a different yet familiar type of role for him. Points for Sydney Pollack as well, mostly just cause I like seeing him. While the girls were good as well, I have a hard time believing Jessica Lange won a supporting Oscar for that. Now I completely understand Hoffman getting his nod, but Lange’s role just didnt feel like your typical Oscar bait. Granted, I haven’t seen any of her competition for that year, but when you consider that the lead actress Academy Award went to Meryl Streep for Sophie’s Choice, something really does seem odd.

But yeah, overall thoroughly enjoyed this one, especially as a theater geek. I guess that gave me an extra special appreciation for it.”

Sunset Blvd (AFI #16)

“As I mentioned on Twitter this movie’s been sitting at the top of my queue for a while now. Reason being that its been there longest, so I tried to up its priority. But then with the whole work sucking donkey balls thing and then other choices fitting into available timeslots better, it kinda got pushed aside. Now I feel like such an idiot for doing that. It was soooo good.

Random fact about me that should be common knowledge by now: I like movies that are \m/ up. The more effed they are (provided that its sensical of course) the more I like it. Requiem For a Dream, Funny Games, American Psycho are just a few examples without thinking too hard about it. Now Sunset Blvd wasn’t quite at that level, but it definitely had the same vibe. And back in its day, yeah it prolly was about as messed up as it gets.

Its not that the plot was all that insane. It had some of that sure, Joe being trapped in the mansion, the weird creepy cougar relationship with Norma, but it was just the feel of the movie. The whole time you could just sense something was off, nearly to the point of being uncomfortable watching. But for me, that just draws me in more. Im practically salivating, so anxious to find out what happens next.

And Gloria Swanson’s performance as Norma really gave me the heebie jeebies as well. Not quite the same kind as Norman Bates, who we discussed a few days ago, but I think she’d be the one of the two more likely to give me nightmares. I guess overly strong women just scare me. Dont get me wrong, Norma (haha just realized the name similarity there) is a \m/ great character, but not one that I’d want to encounter again. Whereas I can watch Bates in Psycho repeatedly.

So yeah guess we can add this to the list of movies that makes me happy for the AFI project. Otherwise, I prolly never woulda ever seen it”

Psycho (AFI #14)

“Before there was Dexter Morgan, and before Patrick Bateman, there was Norman Bates. Gee, I wonder how many other people use a simliar line to start their reviews or write ups (as I prefer to call mine) of Psycho?

Im operating under the assumption that anyone who hasn’t seen this movie has already be spoilt for most of it. If thats not the case, I envy your for being able to see this film as it was intended, and I very much encourage you to take the next opportunity to do so, and stop reading this write up now. I’ll give you spoiler space.
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My God, I \m/ love this movie. Shouldnt surprise those of you who know me that I really do have a thing for serial killers, and Norman Bates is certainly the king of ’em all (although I think Patrick Bateman might be my personal fave). I dont even know where to start. Okay, lets go with Bates himself first. So fantastically played by Anthony Perkins. Throughout the majority of the movie, he’s just someone I wanna have a conversation with. Seems like such a sweet and loveable guy, and then OMG he’s crazy?! And that last shot of him still creeps me out every time I see it. With or without the superimposed skull of his mother. Gaaahhh

I think this goes without saying, but Hitchcock is just absolutely \m/ brilliant as a suspense director. I’ve seen this movie several times, know exactly whats going to happen, and I could still feel my heart pounding at certain key moments during the film. Seriously, I’ve got goosebumps now just thinking about it. And for its time, it was such a groundbreaking movie. I know that nowadays with all the cheap horror movies, its tough to really appreciate the genre. But try to put yourself in the context of 1960 when nothing like this had ever been done before. And on top of that, they pulled one of the ultimate bait and switches in movie history. It was marketed as starring Janet Leigh, and builds up like a mystery/chase thing around the stolen money. And then wham!, your leading starlet is killed halfway thru the movie while taking a shower. Yeah and how crazy is that? Hitchcock took something as ordinary as a shower and made it one of the scariest places imaginable.

On a side note, the remake is one of those things that makes me morally object to remakes in general. I’ve only seen a few scenes from it, but even back when I hadnt even seen all the original it made my soul hurt. Some things are just sacred, you know? I guess the saddest part (for me at least) is that for the longest time that’s all I could associate Vince Vaughn with. Anyhoo, dont expect to be adding that to my wishlist any time soon. Nope, I’ll stick to the original, even if I do only have it on VHS”

Youth in Revolt

“Finally made it to this one. It had the unfortunate fate of being released the same weekend as (I think) 2 other movies I was interested in. And while normally a week night movie isnt that big of a deal, its been tough trying to pull that off this month with the insane-ness of work. Last week I actively tried to go 3 times. First Monday, I got slightly delayed just before running out the door, and then just didnt wanna anymore. Then after debating the whole T ride home, I was ready to go on Wed, but the 7:40 show was cancelled. Was determined to go on Thur but somehow forgot that the after hours training session at work got scheduled for then (at least I got pizza and beer outta that). And I was certain the movie was on its way out, but huzzah it stayed. And I really shoulda thought ahead and gone to this on Sat, and pushed of Edge of Darkness til next week. But whatevs. Its done. Worth it? Ummm yeah sure.

And another thing Im doing against my better judgement is blogging this now instead of setting the sleep timer on the tv with The Big Lebowski and going to sleep. That will come later.

I am very much a fan of Michael Cera. Fell in love with him in Superbad, and everything I’ve seen him in since (although I didnt like Year One). Yes, I know he always plays the same socially awkward kid, but he’s so good at it. And at least this time he had a little edge, both in his main character Nick Twisp and especially with alter ego Francois. Gotta say the trailer made it seem like the relationship between those two was a bit different, as was the reasoning for Francois’ existance. It did work out quite well, but resulted in some minimal confusion due to previously set expectations.

Overall, I found it to be a very clever movie with some snappy dialogue. Not quite as good as the dialogue Cera had to work with in Juno or even Arrested Development, but it gets this script snob’s approval. What also gets my approval is the featured cast. I say featured because most of these peeps didnt have quite big enough roles to be considered supporting, but they were slightly more substantial than your quick cameo. The aforementioned peeps would be: Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Zack Galifiankis, and Fred Willard.

I was gonna knock off half a point for the bit that the film did start to drag. However, Im adding that half back for general creativity–in particular the animation bits. I dont wanna give too much away since those were quite the happy surprise, but there’s a few scenes animated in different styles that were such a nice touch. So yeah, I guess I am glad I finally made it to this one

Youth in Revolt – \m/ \m/ \m/

Sophie’s Choice (AFI #91)

“I’ll try not to go on another OMG Meryl Streep is amazing post, like I did for Its Complicated. But I’ll just make it completely official that she is my favorite actress. That was one \m/ amazing and intense performance, and with an accent and multiple languages on top of that. Word on the street (by which I mean IMDB trivia) is that she begged on her hands and knees for the role. Glad she was able to get her way.

The guys in the film were great too. Its nice to have some good dramatic work to associate in my mind with Kevin Kline other than In & Out, which is his role I know best. I guess I know him well for Midsummer’s… but c’mon is there ever gonna be anything more classic than this scene ? I think not.

Was particularly fascinated with Peter MacNicol. Mostly because I know him as Larry on Numb3rs, which was my fave crime drama before I started watching Bones. Yeah thats another continuing trend, me being captivated by an early role by an actor whose current work I know fairly well. See also Kevin Dillon in Platoon.

Story was quite intense. Although sadly I’d already been partially spoiled by this Penny Arcade strip. Although there was a bit of a disconnect between the stories. It was told through Stingo (MacNicol)’s eyes, but really centered around Sophie. From there you had two great stories: her relationship with Nathan and her past. I just had some trouble resolving the two, since neither really had much to do with the other, which felt awkward to me. Dont get me wrong, they were both interesting, it just felt odd.”

Crazy Heart

“Continuing the previously mentioned trend for the weekend, we’ve got Crazy Heart. You know, its The Wrestler except instead of Mickey Rourke playing a washed up wrestler who has an estranged kid and a thing with Marissa Tomei, you’ve got Jeff Bridges played a washed up country singer who has an estranged kid and a thing with Maggie Gyllenhaal. No really, on some fronts they’re the same movie. But on others, they’re different, and I’ll stop the comparison here by saying that I felt Crazy Heart was far superior.

Ultimately, this film was just putting Jeff Bridges on display hoping for Oscar nod #5 and win #1, and he’s got a damn good shot at it. Yes, this was the classic Oscar bait role with your guy at the end of his rope hitting rock bottom and trying to claw his way back up. However, the one thing that I felt made this role step away from the cliche is that he really was a sympathetic character. You prolly would like to hang out with him, as opposed to just observing him or at best taking him on as a charity case.

And just wanna go on record for saying that Maggie Gyllenhaal is another fave of mine. Has been since I first saw Criminal. Short tangent on that, I remember having one of the worst weekends ever and then Criminal was playing at LSC at MIT. For lack of anything better to do, I shuffled over there in pj’s and my South Park Timmy slippers carrying my stuffed alien Marty and a bunch of tissues (again, really bad weekend) and I left there feeling like everything was okay, as cliche as that sounds.

Heart Collin Farrell as well. Im not sure how much I buy him as country, but he played the superstar quite well, and eventually won me over there. But that long hair has gotta go. As much as I love long hair on guys, it doesnt work on him.

The gripe for this movie (cause I always gotta have at least one) is that I didnt buy the relationship between Bridges’ and Gyllenhaal’s characters. I can see why he fell for her, and I could get her falling for him eventually, but it was too fast which gave it a really forced feeling (I know I use forced a lot to describe these sortsa things). But on the other side of the spectrum, there was a big event towards the end that did have me on the edge of my seat (yeah I use that phrase a lot too). Wont spoil it, but definitely added something a bit more unique that was quite effective.

Anyways, if youre one of those like me who hafta see the major players in the Academy Awards, this is definitely one not to miss

Crazy Heart – \m/ \m/ \m/

The Edge of Darkness

“Im kinda sad that Ive gotten so far behind on my AFI list. Ive been hovering so close to 50 watched for so long. Im really close to having them all acquired, though. Once the ones currently on order get in, Ive got 4 to buy and 5 to rent. Im thinking at that point, I might just go in countdown order for whats left, or at least mostly countdown order with some skipping at my discression.

Anyways so yesterday I wanted to get another rental out of the way. For some reason, from the remaining ones I was most drawn to It Happened One Night–the considered the original screwball comedy, and not generally my type. Turns out, I ended up absolutely loving it.

From this film, I can totally get why that subgenre was so big back in the day, and why every movie tried to replicate it. Characters were great, cast was great, really funny, just on the outer rims of belivability, overall damn near close to perfection. So much so, that this is one of the 3 films to have ever won an Oscar grand slam. We talked about that a bit when I saw All About Eve (the second one to do so). For those keeping score at home, Silence of the Lambs is the third. Yet to see it for blogging purposes, but I do know it well and love it much. But yeah, I could see how if this is one of the first classic older films you ever see you could get \m/ addicted to them.

Also understand the whole Clark Gable thing. I’d seen him in Gone With The Wind back in jr high, but at that point in time I was not in a position to appreciate it. Watching him yesterday I was getting kinda excited to revisit …Wind once I break into the top 5. You know, its interesting how some things never change. A movie gets popular, and some little detail starts a big fad. According to IMDB trivia, during the undressing scene (one of many aboslutely classic scenes in the film. Im partial to the dunking donuts bit), it was too awkward for Gable to deal with an undershirt, so they nixed it. There was then a huge decrease in the sale of undershirts nationwide as guys stopped wearing them as a result of this movie. Im sure we’ve all got recent examples of similiar phenomenon. The first that comes to mind is the fashion craze from Sex and the City.

Gotta get this wrapped up to I can go about the rest of my day. Plans include a trip to the Kendall for Crazy Heart and finishing up Sophie’s Choice cause yeah I fell asleep thru it. Why do I always think its such a good idea to watch a 3 hour movie late on a Saturday night? I think Titanic was the only time that actually worked out.”