The Wolfman

“This afternoon’s AFI, The Last Picture Show, got interrupted by the ‘rents calling. Only got about halfway thru by the time I had to leave for The Wolfman. Figured I’d do this write up, then finish that movie.

Those of you fairly in the know when it comes to movies are prolly aware that The Wolfman’s release date kept getting pushed back and pushed back. I think its arrival is something like 2 years late, and it sorta snuck into a graveyard Feb spot outta nowhere. Never a good sign. And sadly, the foreboding was fully deserved.

It does break my heart a bit to hafta do a negative writeup for this one. I love supernaturally spooky stories. We all know I have a thing for vampires, which means that werewolves have a special place in my heart as well, given that they often show up together. There were a few small positives
-Danny Elfman soundtrack, although I didnt know it until the end credits.
-Gobs of gratuitous gore. Not generally a plus for people, but definitely makes me happy. And a lot of it was kinda clever or at least original.
-Hugo Weaving. He stole every scene he was in. When he first came on the screen I was thinking how whenever he makes an appearance most people instantly think of LOTR or the Matrix. But when its The Matrix, you dont think “”Agent Smith”” you think or rather you hear “”Mr Anderson””.

As far as the rest of the cast: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins, I dont have any complaints but I dont particularly have any complements either. This one was just kinda beneath all of their abilities.

Okay so now we’ll get into it. Why didnt I like it? It was painfully slow. Not even two hours, but it felt like an eternity. I actually saw two peeps walk out halfway through. The story itself was kinda boring. While Im typically in favor of streamlining the plot, this was a bit too one dimensional. And lastly it was too \m/ predictable. I called every shot pretty early on, and picked up on every foreshadowing dialogue clue. The effects weren’t anything that special. I’ll give them points for doing actual wolfman makeup instead of CGI, but it seemed too rigid, like a mask.

Right so I think I’ve gotten my point across. You want an entertainly bad werewolf movie, stick with American Werewolf in Paris instead.

The Wolfman – \m/ \n

It’s a Wonderful Life (AFI #20)

“This is one of those where I wish I could just check the movie off the list and skip the write up. I mean, in theory I could. No one’s gonna stop me, but I’d be mad at me.

Yeah so this week’s plan of 3 slapstick comedies wasn’t such the best idea afterall. I just was not in the mood. I’d also just found out about icheckmovies from a friend on Rotten Tomatoes, so I spent the whole time going thru the list and checking off movies. My numbers aren’t as high as I woulda liked, but a lot of these lists have a \m/ton of older films and foreign films–neither of which I’ve ever claimed to be familiar with. Reminds me of back on 1E, we had someone build a site like that for the hall to see who’d watched the most movies.

Anyhoo, not much to say on The Gold Rush, since I wasn’t giving it the attention I’ve been led to believe it deserves. Was noticing the score and it kinda annoyed me. I get that that’s what the soundtrack for all silent movies sounded like, but Im just too spoiled by the soundtracks you find in “”talkies”” I guess.”

The Gold Rush (AFI #58)

“This is one of those where I wish I could just check the movie off the list and skip the write up. I mean, in theory I could. No one’s gonna stop me, but I’d be mad at me.

Yeah so this week’s plan of 3 slapstick comedies wasn’t such the best idea afterall. I just was not in the mood. I’d also just found out about icheckmovies from a friend on Rotten Tomatoes, so I spent the whole time going thru the list and checking off movies. My numbers aren’t as high as I woulda liked, but a lot of these lists have a \m/ton of older films and foreign films–neither of which I’ve ever claimed to be familiar with. Reminds me of back on 1E, we had someone build a site like that for the hall to see who’d watched the most movies.

Anyhoo, not much to say on The Gold Rush, since I wasn’t giving it the attention I’ve been led to believe it deserves. Was noticing the score and it kinda annoyed me. I get that that’s what the soundtrack for all silent movies sounded like, but Im just too spoiled by the soundtracks you find in “”talkies”” I guess.”

A Night at the Opera (AFI #85)

“So this is the second time I’ve ever encountered the Marx bros. The other being Duck Soup. The short verdict is I still dont quite get ’em.

Although, thinking about it a bit more, I really just dont like Groucho. Harpo and Chico have kinda grown on me, but I find Groucho to be rather annoying. And of course, he carries most of the film, which would explain why I didnt care much for it.

It did have my attention for about the first half hour or so. Then I didnt really care so much. It sorta peaked at the state room scene. I guess I can only handle so much slapstick. We’ve been over this before. I like surprises, sarcasm, and sass in my comedy. Not that I expected it, but I guess I was a kinda lost cause all along, yeah?”

Modern Times (AFI #78)

“I have a plan for this week. I just got in a stack of tapes from half.com and they take up a lot of space in the queue. Included in that stack are 2 Charlie Chaplins and a Marx Brothers, which are each about 90 min. Perfect for after work. Knocked one out tonight

I think I have a bit more appreciation for Charlie Chaplin now. I mentioned back when I wrote up City Lights that I’d seen that one once, and just didnt get it. But then on the second viewing I thought it was just beautiful. With Modern Times, I’d go from being really into it (cringing when he put on the rollerskates or the lady with the buttons on her dress walked by) to not paying attention at all. We know visual humor isnt my thing, and I dont really have much attention span for it. One of the beauties of this genre, however, is that even if my mind wanders, I can jump right back into it. I haven’t missed out on some intricate subplot.

Was particularly captivated by Paulette Goddard as the gamin. Something about her opening scene stealing the bananas just got my attention. She just had such a (and forgive me for getting so hippy-like here) free and playful spirit. Prolly the best part of the movie for me.

I dont know, not much else to say about this one I guess. I think I woulda hated it a few months ago. But now I do enjoy this style, just preferably in small doses.”

Forrest Gump (AFI #76)

“Im so giddy from watching this, I can’t even decide where to start my write up. I must have seen this a hundred times growing up. My parents got me the tape as soon as it was released. I never quite understood why (guessing all the Academy Awards it won had something to do with it) but they just came home with it one day and handed it to me. I musta been about 8 or so, and so much of it just went over my head or I didnt understand it. Case in point, I only a couple years ago realized how Mrs. Gump got Forrest into that school. But I absolutely adore this movie. Along with LOTR, this is prolly my favorite movie on the AFI list going into the project. Back in about 4th grade I got this Kermit the Frog poster parodying the main Forrest Gump poster. It stayed up in my room until I left, then was up in my dorm room, and is currently up in my apartment under the toy hammock. I can’t remember the last time I saw this, but I found myself reciting the lines along with the characters. And despite knowing full well everything that was gonna happen, I was nearly crying at the end (and we’ve established, Im not a cryer).

I know Im gushing. Deal with it. Its gonna keep coming.

I just love everything about this film. Its endearing and funny and dramatic and just so \m/ good. The cast is fantastic. Tom Hanks has been one of my absolute faves since the first time I saw this one. And I have nothing but mad respect for Sally Field and Gary Sinise. Also, I only recently realized that Jenny is Robin Wright (Penn) who’s also Buttercup in Princess Bride. That just blew my mind when I found out, albeit rather late for someone claiming to be such a movie afficionado.

Another thing I never fully appreciated was how ground breaking the technology was. Seeing it when I was little, I didnt really think too much about it. If anything, I mighta believed some of the camera and technology tricks a little too much. But now, seeing all the flawless CGI (which even today more than 15 years later its tough to acheive) and the “”historic”” footage, its just awe inspiring.

Also worth mentioning, this is one of these rare cases where the movie is infinitely superior to the book. The only other that comes to mind is Big Fish, but that isn’t such a glaring difference as this. If you haven’t read Forrest Gump, please dont waste your time. I guess my big problem with it was that I grew up loving the movie, but two have very different intentions. While the movie is made to generate the warm fuzzies, the book was meant as satire. Gump was not a sympathetic character at all, and the things he did were even more over the top. Mad props to Eric Roth for the screenplay. If only he didnt try to recreate the exact same thing with nearly identical plot points in Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Okay, stopping now before I go on that rant.

Alrighty so I think I’ve driven home the point of how much this is a favorite of mine. I’ll stop now.

Update: Forgot that I wanted to say something about the absolutely classic soundtrack. Growing up in a rather sheltered environment, with strict bans on what music I could listen to, I have this movie to thank for a good chunk of the classic rock that I know. There’s some songs that I cant hear without picturing the scenes. Example: Anytime I hear “”Free Bird”” I always see Jenny in the sparkling halter standing on the ledge.”

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.”