It Happened One Night (AFI #46)

“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.”

Legion

“I really worry about myself and my movie addiction. There’s times, like today, where I go to the theater just cause I hafta see some new movie cause it just opened, even if I know its not gonna be good. Such was the case with Legion. I tried talking myself out of it, but was unsuccessful. I still dont really know why I just had to go. Walking out of there, I overheard someone say “”Well at least it had Paul Bettany””. That’s kinda my sentiment too. Then her companion replied with “”Who’s Paul Bettany?”” and a little piece of my soul died.

Before ya’ll start leaving comments asking the same question, I’ll educate you so that you can at least pretend you knew if you didnt. I know him best as Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, but he was also in The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon, Master and Commander, and a buncha others. Got it now?

And yes, Bettany was great as the archangel Michael. He was the one redeeming quality in a movie that is waaay beneath him and what he’s capable of. I guess it does say something about him that he’ll still give 110% in something like this that woulda prolly be phoned in by another actor.

As far as the rest of it, there just really wasn’t much to it. There was the whole attempt at being meaningful and making a point about faith, but really I think it was just an excuse to have people possessed by angels that were essentially zombies. And I can just picture the protest emails that are likely circling the religious groups right now (hell back in the day I used to get those for other films). But it felt like it was attempting to be controversial simply for the sake of being controversial.

Another thing I found odd was how contained it all was. They never really left the little diner, which was a bit strange, or at least its not typical.

But yeah, really not worth your time unless you’ve got a movie addiction that rivals mine, and you’re not afraid to pay to sit through a potential dud.

Legion – \m/ \m/

I hoped to get in another AFI film tonight (My pace has slowed too damn much) but these write ups took longer than expected. At least I got Land Of the Lost outta my queue (that was my background noise). Yeah still dont know why I actually bought that. Impulse buy on Black Friday. Hoping to catch Youth in Revolt tomorrow. I really need to try and get in a few AFI’s during the week if I dont get stuck at work. Then planning to trek to an indie theater for Crazy Heart on Sat and Edge of Darkness of Sun. Aaaand break!”

Apocalypse Now (AFI #30)

“Had plenty of time last night, so I figured I’d attack one of the longer ones in the movie queue. The version I have is The Complete Dossier which gives you both the original and the Redux version, each split in half over two disks. I figured I’d go with the original. Having an “”intermission”” was both a good and bad thing. For one it made the lengthy movie seem a lot more manageable, thinking of it in terms of needing to get through an hour and fifteen then another hour and fifteen. And I think it did help me stay awake longer than I otherwise would have. But then when I inevitably fell asleep at the start of the second disk, it felt like there was a big disconnect between the two halves.

This isnt the first Vietnam flick to make an appearance in the AFI project, and its a slight bit annoying how many freakin’ war flicks in general are on the list. Granted, they’re good, but a bit more variety would be very much appreciated. Definitely prefered this over Platoon (and I find it kinda interesting that …Now has Martin Sheen then a few years later Charlie Sheen starred in Platoon). Unsure which I’d prefer between this and The Deer Hunter. I think I was more into Apocalypse Now, but I liked the Deer Hunter characters better. However Full Metal Jacket (not an AFI film sadly) is still my fave ‘Nam film.

I know that I read Heart of Darkness back in high school but I dont quite remember well any of it, really. Other than there was a crazy guy named Kurtz and it was actually set in Africa. I do find it interesting that it was moved to Vietnam, and I do think that worked out quite well. Although it did seem strange to me that you go so \m/ long until you meet Kurtz. Cant remember if thats how it happened in the book, but that was prolly a big part of why I felt kinda disconnected by the time we reached the second half.”

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

“Not my fault Im late on this one. LJ was down on Fri night when I planned to write it up, and just hadnt gotten around to it since. Yeah I know, Fri night is the least likely day of the week you’ll find me going to the theater (unless initiated by a buddy) but my options for Dr Parnassus were Harvard Sq or the Common. And since I try to avoid the AMC Loews Boston Common as much as possible I figured going straight after work on Fri would be better than a round trip the length of the movie that would knock out most of my Sunday.

I dont think ya’ll would be surprised that the reason I had to go out of my way to see this movie is Heath Ledger. For that, the film was worth it. The first image of him on screen caused so many gasps and sighs from the audience. I’ll try to spare you the sappy tribute as much as possible, but goddam I love that guy. No other celeb death has affected me the way his did. I remember a buddy of mine said he found out from this tribute. I’d actually heard it from someone and dropped everything and ran to a computer to verify the news.

That said, I think Im with the camp that will prefer to think of Dark Knight as Ledger’s last film. That was truly an iconic performance in a nearly flawless movie. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and it totally breaks my heart to say this, wasn’t really that great. I mostly say that cause it was just weird and I did not get it at all.

The big question about this film was how were they gonna salvage Ledger’s work, and as Im sure you’ve all heard, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell took it over. I have to say, for the most part, that worked quite well. Kinda serendipitous that this movie actually lended itself to that solution. Gonna try to explain as best I can without giving anything away, which is also tricky since I didnt entirely understand all of it. But the characters would go into this magical world (the Imaginarium) that was formed by their imaginations, so having a different appearance was entirely possible there. They even established this early on before it happened to Ledger’s character. That much worked. Depp was the first one to step in, and he charmed his way through it beautifully. The one downside was that the story had to be concluded within the imaginarium, since Im assuming they hadnt gotten that far in filming otherwise, and there was a bit of a disconnect having a different actor resolving Ledger’s character. But its not like there were too many options.

As far as the rest of the film, again it didnt make much sense to me. The pacing was a bit slow, things werent ever fully explained, and it was just all so absurd. Admittedly, I had similar feelings toward Brothers Grimm (another Terry Gilliam film) but then it grew on me on a second viewing. Im really really hoping thats the case here.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – \m/ \m/

Rocky (AFI #57)

“File this one under the group of movies that makes me grateful for my AFI project. Enjoyed Rocky so much, its taking all my willpower to not go out right now and buy the boxset of all the movies. I figure I shouldnt spend on a boxset until I knock down a good percentage of my movie queue.

So why did I like it so much? First and foremost, the characters. Very much fell in love with Rocky Balboa. Such a great combination of bad assitude and heart. Tough guy with a softside, played beautifully by Sly Stallone. And as a mostly quiet, shy girl myself, I totally identified with Adrian. So of course the two of them together instantly made them a favorite movie couple for me–and I dont have many of those.

Im just so \m/ pumped after watching that. The music, the montages, the fight, everything. I dont really wanna go to sleep right now, I wanna go out and kick some ass.”

Yankee Doodle Dandy (AFI #98)

“I’ve noticed that my AFI write ups generally tend to be a lot shorter than my current movie write ups. Im not entirely sure why that is. I think I feel weird doing the whole “”I liked this, this didnt work for me”” thing for movies that are considered to be the best.

Totally unrelated but I got District 9 playing in the background. It looks \m/ awesome on Blu-Ray. Just saying.

I had a hard time getting into Yankee Doodle Dandy at first. But after a while, it picked up. I went from not caring about the big musical numbers to those being the best part. However, I dont get why this is considered one of the all time best movies. I had to Wikipedia George M Cohan about 45 minutes into the film because I still had no idea who he was.

As far as cinematical breakthrough, the best I can find is that it was one of the first movies to be colorized after its release. That definitely helped a lot. I can’t see those broadway numbers working too well in B&W. Also, James Cagney’s Oscar winning performance as George M Cohan is considered one of the all time best. I’ll give him that. I was quite impressed with his dancing, and I did totally buy his arrogant yet sweet character.

Really liked his relationship with Mary. That was probably my other fave part besides the big broadway numbers. And I suppose it was the theater geek in me that liked the musical-ness. But still, mostly unimpressed.”

The Lovely Bones

“Before seeing this movie, there were two things that I kept on hearing. One was the controversy over leaving out the murder/rape stuff. The other the debate whether or not it was unfilmable. Before I comment, should point out that no, I haven’t read the book. But I am very interested to. I usually prefer to go backwards (see movie then, read book) so I will be adding it to my list. That said.

On that first issue, I think they made the right call. It didnt take a lot to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what happened to Susie Salmon. Also, I really liked the way they transitioned into her death. I knew she was going to be killed, and I actually believed for a second that she hadn’t been. I was almost as surprised as she was when she realized it (not quite though cause I did know it was coming. Not a spoiler, cause its the basic premise of the story)

As far as the unfilmable bit, sorta inclined to agree. At least, I think I do. The reason its considered that is because of the whole “”in between”” stuff (where she’s in a purgatory state of not on earth, not in heaven). I really coulda done without all that. I was into the story otherwise, but it lost me everytime we went back there. That also really bogged down the pacing. I did like her having a connection to the living, but the whole What Dreams May Come-ish afterlife world just didnt work right.

I will say the cast was fantastic. Loved Saoirse Ronan even from the trailers for Atonement. That is one intense little actress, and with an Academy Award nod already under her belt there’ll be no stopping her. Heart Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weitz, of course, but the scene stealer was Susan Sarrandon who’s been a fave of mine since I first saw The Client. Excellent choice for the eccentric grandma.

The other debate I’ve been hearing is over Stanley Tucci. He’s got a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod this year. The question is Lovely Bones or Julie & Julia? Most tend to lean toward Lovely Bones. I disagree. Yes he was fantastic. He so fully embodied this really creepy character, including voice and mannerisms. However I felt there was a lot more depth to him in …Julia. There he shone by helping his costar shine, and we all fell in love with him for it, or at least I did. And while we all know how much I love psycho killers (Dexter, Patrick Bateman, etc) Im not quite ready to add him to the list of the most classic killers.

Yeah so it seems I liked it more than a lot of others did. Its losing half a point for the whole in between fail. Otherwise, really intriguing story with a great cast.

The Lovely Bones – \m/ \m/ \n

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (AFI #26)

“My impressions of this film early on was that it almost made me feel like a bad American (in a good way though, if thats possible). Just the way his character was so excited about democracy in action and his love of American history really got to me. I’d always found that stuff to be rather cheesey, but Jimmy Stewart’s Mr Smith sold it with such conviction. I was thinking that I need to add this to the list of movies I really need to make my future kids see (whenever it is that they come along) preferably while they’re not old enough to be jaded into forgetting all the liberties we take for granted. Okay, its getting a bit weird here now. I’ll just conclude this thought with some trivia I got off IMDB. American politicians hated this film because they felt it portrayed the government as too corrupt. European facist states band it for being too democratic.

But yeah I did really like this one. The characters were great, the story was compelling. I guess I sorta knew what had to happen, but I was still anxious to see exactly how it all unfolded. Not sure how much more there is to say than that.”

The Book of Eli

“Little bit of catching up to do. Yesterday’s schedule was so jammed I couldnt find any write up time. Original plan was to do this during the Globes yesterday, but I ended up getting really into it until power went out on the whole block during the last hour. *sigh*

I shoulda known better than to get really excited for a January released movie. That’s always a setup for disappointment. From the trailer Book of Eli looked so promising. Yes I know the whole post apocalyptic thing is a bit over done (just in the past year: The Road, 9, Terminator: Salvation, plus a few other more subtle ones). But what could go wrong with Denzel kicking some butt? Lots actually.

My main gripe, well there’s a few actually. One is that it was so \m/ slow paced. Yes the action sequences were good (I _really_ loved the silhouette one) but they were few, far-between, and fleeting. The rest of the time, things were just progressing really slowly. Felt like nothing much was really happening the rest of the time. I recognize that a lot of that was to establish the feel of how sparsely populated the world was, but really we got the point. Move on please.

The other big gripe is that it was trying to hard to be meaningful. The irony there being that it woulda been, if they hadn’t pushed. The last ten minutes were amazing. While a lot of it was predictable, there was something I hadn’t forseen and it made me wanna watch the whole thing again with that knowledge. But up until that point, there were lots of vague references attempting to be universal. And the somewhat minimal dialogue was somewhat mediocre at best.

The saddest part was that such a great cast was wasted on it. Love Denzel and this was one of his most badass roles to date. Gary Oldman makes a wonderfully evil baddie, if only he had better dialogue to work with. Mila Kunis is another fave of mine, but she didnt have much to do. Surprise appearance by Malcom Macdowell, which made me happy, although it was distracting as I tried to figure out if it was Malcom Macdowell or Terrance Stamp cause I always have the damnest time trying to tell them apart.

Ultimately, I think it was kinda worth it for the end (which earned it an extra half point) but it just takes a long ass while to get there

The Book of Eli – \m/ \m/ \n

Easy Rider (AFI #84)

“I’ve been meaning to say this for the past few entries and it slips my mind each time. On a semi-impulse, I registered the domain www.expletivedleted.com There’s nothing there yet, and I didnt buy any webspace cause it’ll be a while til I can actually think about moving this onto an actual site. Just wanted to have the option one day and secure the address now.

So I pretty much stuck to my schedule today. I finished it off with the movie that’d been sitting in my pending queue the longest — Easy Rider. I didnt get it. At all. Actually, I was just really bored.

Not trying to knock the movie for the sake of knocking it (I do have some respect for it, given that the American Film Institute deemed it one of the greatest movies of all time) but nothing \m/ happened. Half the movie was just shots of them riding along the highway. When “”Born to Be Wild”” was playing over one of those early shots, that gave me some hope. The next time there was one of those scenes it had a fairly decent song, so I figured I’d end up liking it in the same way I liked American Graffiti–for the music. But that was about it for the music I liked.

We’ve firmly established that I like for my movies to have some sorta narrative. Going in, I’d read the summary on the back of the box and was confuddled that it didnt really say much. Now I get why.

The one semi redeeming factor for me was that I did enjoy Jack Nicholson’s performance (although Im not sure about that thing he’d do whenever he’d drink). But there wasn’t really much else that got me going. According to IMDB, the original cut of the movie was 3 hours. all I can say, is thank God that got cut in half. I really dont think I coulda made it through much more.”