Pulp Fiction (AFI #94)

“I \m/ love this movie. Quentin Tarantino is a movie god, and hands down my \m/ favorite director. I just love every aspect of this movie. Serioulsy, Tarantino is a \m/ genius. I have no idea how he comes up with these stories. And I love the gritty feel and the funky music (which I just added to my download list) and the fantastic cast and just everything. I wont argue with anyone who says its Tarantino’s best, but to be honest I actually prefer Reservoir Dogs. Mostly I just prefer the story.

I also like some of the subtle interconnectedness with Reservoir Dogs, the big one being that Vincent Vega is Vic Vega’s (Mr Blonde) brother. There’s also one theory about the case that the contents are the diamonds from ‘Dogs. Personally, I prefer the theory that its Marsellus Wallace’s soul. I just dont think the characters would react to the contents the same way if it weren’t something priceless and incredible.

Watching it again, I was thinking that I sorta wish I could be watching it for the first time. And then I wished I could be watching it a theater. In particular, I was thinking about Christopher Walken’s speech and how out of nowhere it is. I just wanted to feel that initial shock again.

And such killer dialogue thru the whole \m/ movie. The opening sequence is brilliant, as are all of Tarantino’s openers, and it just gets better as it goes on. While there are so many quick-witted quotes to chose from, I actually do have a favorite, and its one that has a lot of personal meaning to me: “”Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?…That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.”” Those of you who know me know that Im usually very quiet. If I dont have something worth saying, I keep my mouth shut. I’ve seen some of my friends get used to that slowly over time. And yeah, it is special once you have that unspoken understanding.

Geez, throughout the whole thing I kept on noticing stuff I wanted to point out, but now Im just basking in the awesome and I cant remember the rest of my points. And Im also a bit sad that I didnt get to do the Tarantino-esque production of Bat Boy I’d wanted to direct. Maybe in another five years when it comes back around.”

The Maltese Falcon (AFI #31)

“Here’s another one where I expected something completely different. I thought a story about someone searching for a priceless statue would be more of an adventure. I guess Humphrey Bogart’s outfit on the movie poster gave me too much of an Indianna Jones vibe. Turns out, this was actually a mystery–film noir to be more specific, but a real fun one at that.

It did hit on every noir cliche, but I suppose this is the movie that was best at it. I actually was really intrigued by the story, and I liked the falcon being at the center of the murder mystery.

Another thing I’ve noticed about the AFI flicks so far: they all have really good endings. No, Im not getting spoilery, but so far most of these films have wrapped up very nicely with conclusions that I absolutely agree with. This was another one of those.

Should also point out that this was my first introduction to the illustrious Humphrey Bogart. I didnt even know it was him, til halfway through the movie I was so impressed that I couldnt wait to IMDB him. And suddenly his reputation made sense. He was suave yet sharp and slick and smart. He delivered his brilliant one liners with ease, and he just has this breathtaking confidence about him. We’ll be seeing more of him this fall. I think he’s got another 3 on the list, including, of course, Casablanca.

Not really much else to say about this one. It was pretty \m/ close to flawless.”

Network (AFI #64)

“This is one of many movies on the list that I’d never heard of before starting this project. But IMDB has just informed me of some rather interesting stats about it. Its only the second movie to ever win 3 acting Oscars, the first being Street Car Named Desire which we’ll get to later on this fall. Also, Peter Finch is one of two actors to get a posthumous Oscar win. I think we all know the other–Heath Ledger *tear*. Beatrice Straight won supporting actress for the shortest amount of screentime for a winning role. I thought Judi Dench had that distinction for Shakespeare in Love, but she’s apparently second with 8 minutes of screentime. Straight only had 5. But I have to say, without even knowing she’d won an Oscar, I was really struck by those 5 minutes. Also, I guess the reason I find all of Network’s Academy Award triumphs so remarkable is that 1976 was a good year for movies. 3 of the 4 other movies it was up against for Best Picture appear on the AFI list – Rocky (which took the win), Taxi Driver, and All the Presidents Men. Huh.

Anyways, as has been the case with most of these so far, I was hooked at the start of the film, but got lost along the way. However, this time was mostly my fault. I’d misread a synopsis of the movie, and was waiting for events that weren’t ever gonna happen. Once I realized that, my disappointment made me momentarily lose interest. I got it back eventually, but not as strongly as it’d started.

I find stories about people who work behind the scenes in the entertainment business to be really interesting. I’d meant to point that out last night with Sullivan’s Travels, but somehow missed it come blog time. This time around it was about a tv network (ooooh that’s where the title comes from!). I know its all sensationalized fiction, but I find it kinda ironic that an industry Im so interested in is littered by a type of person I’d never wanna actually hafta interact with.

Besides the kinda messed up (in a good way, or at least good way for me) beginning, the end (I wont spoil) took an even more messed up turn. That definitely gets points from me, even if the middle dragged. And the cast was fantastic. The lovely Faye Dunaway makes yet another appearance in an AFI movie, and it wont be the last time we see her. But I think I liked her better in Chinatown than Network, even though Network is the one that finally got her a win. Already mentioned that Beatrice Straight was fantastic in her 5 min 40 sec of screentime. And points for Robert Duvall as well. But I think Peter Finch’s crazy Howard Beale is what really made the movie. If it wasnt for the first 20 minutes of his performance, I dont think I woulda ever gotten hooked in.”

Sullivan’s Travels (AFI #61)

“I have two goals for this project this weekend. One is to get my total of AFI movies watched to at least ten. The second is to have enough cash left over in this pay period to place a half.com order for a few of the ones that are expensive at Best Buy and not available to rent on Amazon. Here’s hoping.

The order Im picking to watch movies is pretty random. Since I’ve seen about 1/4 of them before, Im trying to keep those repeats spread out to every 4th movie. Also trying to balance the online vs offline movies. Right now the strategy for picking online movies is to first go for the ones that would be most expensive to otherwise get at Best Buy. Sullivan’s Travels would have actually been the most expensive purchase, according to bestbuy.com So its priority was upped and I watched it just now. Wow that paragraph was boring. Sorry, peeps.

Mixed feelings about this one. There were points when I thought it was one of the greatest comedies Ive ever seen, and points when I found it kinda dull. Mostly the good outweighs the bad. The dialogue (which you’ll learn is prolly the most important thing in a movie for me) was smart and snappy, especially in some of the opening scenes, which I absolutely loved. But the slapstick that was sprinkled into that was a bit too much for my taste. I think thats because I tend to find visual humor very predictable, whereas quick dialogue is more likely to surprise me. That’s also why I like offensive humor, but thats not applicable to this film.

My big complaint, however, is that while watching the film, it felt kinda disjointed. The main plot line wrapped up earlier than I expected, and then the story took a weird twist kinda late on. By then I was kinda ready to file this movie away, not start on some new train of thought. It all got wrapped up very nicely, but it wasnt until those final moments that it all made sense. Until then that last half hour was just awkward.

Another thing Im on the fence about is that there were a lot of sequences without any dialogue. Some of them were beautiful, others boring. Ultimately, I do think it was a nice touch, I guess I just didnt have the attention span.

What I am completely sold on in this movie, was Veronica Lake’s performance. I just loved her. She has that 1940’s glam but she was also one tough cookie. This may actually be the first time that I see a character from such a far back time period who I wish I was. Sadly a quick IMDB check shows that I wont be encountering Ms Lake in any other AFI films, but she did make a zombie movie in the 70’s. May hafta scope that one out later.

Im just not enough in the writing flow right now to come up with any more comments on this one. I very much enjoyed the first hour, but the rest of the 90 minutes just lost me.”

In the Heat of the Night (AFI #75)

“Tonight prolly wasn’t a good night to watch one of these. Waaay too much going on in my head for me to focus. Silly things like waiting for the DWTS results show (go team Chito!) and excitement for tomorrow (oh yeah, haven’t mentioned it here yet, but I won a private screening of Vampire’s Assistant). I just could not get into it at all. I really did consider skipping the flick and getting in a few more eps of Sarah Connor Chronicles, but last week I was really antsy and it didnt hold my attention enough.

Anyways, didnt really care too much for this one. Besides those previously mentioned outside influences, the movie just felt too slow. I get that the racial issues are the main point of it, but it was the murder mystery that I was more interested. But that point kinda took a backseat to the prejudice thing, so it appeared as though there wasn’t much happening. Also having just seen Chinatown this weekend, its gonna be tough to find another whodunnit that measures up.

I did really like Sidney Poitier. He’s one of those actors that I’ve heard raves about but never really saw. After a quick IMDB-ing, the only thing I’ve seen him in is Sneakers.

Getting distracted now cause I hear Shark Tank in the background as Im waiting for DWTS, so I’ll wrap this up, even though it’ll be short.

The other point I want to make is that one thing I find really cool about this project is the classic quotes. I keep catching things I’ve heard before somewhere in pop culture that I can now place. This time it was “”They call me Mister Tibbs””. Not a quote I would have thought about, but upon hearing it I knew it was special. And there was this lead in, where I just knew he was gonna say something awesome, without any clue what it was. Sorry, Im not making sense. Im rushing. Guess that’s my cue to stop.”

Saving Private Ryan (AFI #71)

“I had seen this one once before, and both times I just thought it was absolutely amazing. Im usually turned off by war movies (I kinad liked Jarhead and I _love_ the first half of Full Metal Jacket) but this one is just fantastic. Im also one of many people who wants to call Shennannigans! on the 1999 Academy Awards for giving best picture to Shakespeare In Love instead of Saving Privmate Ryan.

One of the common complaints about it is that its too \m/ gory, but I can’t imagine the film having as much of an impact without it. That opening battle scene is just unbelivable. Normally I get bored during long drawn out epic scenes like that, but this one had me on the edge of my seat, heart pounding in my ears. And also, I think God invented surround sound specifically for this movie. I was actually getting a bit scared and jumpy. I kept looking over at the door to see if someone was there, but it was just the left rear speaker.

Interesting antecdote about my surround sound. When I got it last year, the first movie I used it on was Tropic Thunder. I thought it was the most awesome shit ever. My cat, on the other hand, was totally freaking out over it. She’s gotten used to it by now.

This movie has such a great cast too, and I just got attached to all of the characters. Tom Hanks, Barry Pepper, Ed Burns, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Matt Damon, and a brief appearance by Nathan Fillion (For the record, Adam Baldwin was in Full Metal Jacket. Something must just draw the Firefly boys to war flicks).

I’d thought I’d just start this one and maybe save the last hour for tomorrow. Didnt figure I’d last thru three hours, but I was just hooked and they flew by. So intense and just so so good.

One last thing. I’ve mentioned before that I like reading IMDB trivia and FAQ after watching something. Here’s a tidbit I grabbed from the trivia page that I found amusing that I would like to share with the class:
All the principal actors underwent several days of grueling army training – except for Matt Damon, who was spared so that the other actors would resent him, and would convey that resentment in their performances.
Genius!”

Bringing Up Baby (AFI #88)

“Im really cranking them out this weekend, aren’t I? This gives me hope that I’ll meet my end of the year arbitrary goal for finishing this thing.

Watched Bringing Up Baby this morning. Whenever I hear the title, it reminds me of Father of the Bride (the 1991 version with Steve Martin), which is one of my ultimate favorite movies ever. I can’t even begin to count how many times I watched that when I was little. Anne says that she met her fiancee Brian at a showing of Bringing Up Baby. They were the only two people in the theater, and they kept hearing each other laugh at all the same places.

To be honest, I didnt really care too much for it. I like farces (case in point, nothing is likely to ever top A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forvm as my favorite musical), but I dont like it when they get so awkward that you feel the characters’ embarassment to the point that its painful. And this one got ridiculously complicated and way too far fetched (leopards? seriously??). I was with it for the first half, and I thought things were pretty outta control then. But it got even more insane and just lost me.

I do love Cary Grant, but I love him as the suave leading man (like in Philadelphia Story…thats on the list for later). This time he was more Clark Kent than Superman, and while I normally like loveable and bumbling dorks, it just didnt suit him. Katherine Hepburn annoyed me at first. I think it was mostly the way she was talking non-stop, and everything she said was wrong and Grant couldnt get a word in to correct her. She did grow on me eventually.

Overall the movie was cute, but not really my style.”

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (AFI #33)

“I was incredibly distracted during this viewing, which prolly didnt do the movie justice. First, about 15 minutes in a fire alarm goes off in the apartment building. After a few minutes I decided to bag the cat and head downstairs. Not too long after the firemen gave the all clear. Buuut they didnt have access to turn off the alarm. So for a good hour of the movie, it was blaring really \m/ loud.

Then maybe 20 min after I’d settled back in to watch the film after coming back in, I get an email from the person who I was supposta adopt a second cat from. After she’d blown me off a few times and pushed back the kitty drop off, leaving me with back to back weekends home like a lame ass cause I’d cleared them, she decides that she’d rather give the cat somewhere she’d be an “”only child””. That got me pissed off because I’d already gotten in a bit deep with the cat prep. So I spent most of the rest of the movie seething, trying to figure out how best to respond to get the point across that Im upset without being rude about it. Now Im thinking I’ll wait til next month and go thru a shelter.

Anyways, just giving ya’ll my excuses for why this review might not be too comprehensive. Onward.

I thought it was a really good character piece. There’s something that always grabs me about characters with mental illness. They just have a special place in my heart I guess. (yeah yeah save your comparison comments) And I loved each one of them including Christopher Lloyd in his cinematical debut and an unrecognizable (at least I didnt realize it was him) Danny Devito. Nicholson was good too, but I much prefered him in this morning’s Chinatown.

My one disappointment was that I’d heard Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched was supposed to be one of the greatest villains of all time. While she played the role perfectly, I was mildly unimpressed with the character. Maybe growing up in Catholic school kinda desensitized me to the reserved strict type.

I did kinda lose interest for a bit towards the end of the second hour (running time is about 2:10 until the credits) I attribute that mostly to the previously mentioned distractions.

Also worth pointing out, for those of you who want to add to your movie trivia, this is the second of 3 movies to ever get a “”grand slam”” at the Oscars–best picture, best director, best actor and actress, best screenplay. The other two being It Happened One Night and Silence of the Lambs. Both of them are on the AFI list so I’ll get to ’em sometime soon.

That concludes today’s actual movie watching. I’ll prolly get in another disc or so of the Sarah Connor Chronicles before bed. Tomorrow’s plan includes Law Abiding Citizen (most likely) and another AFI Amazon rental.”

Chinatown (AFI #21)

“I actually started watching this one last night, but fell asleep at around the 45 minute mark. Thats not a reflection of the movie at all. I was really getting into it, but sometimes a long work week just catches up with you. My kitty, Lestat, spent about 45 minutes climbing on me and pawing and mewing to wake me up so I’d feed her.

This was also an experiment in Amazon’s online movie rental service. I dont typically like watching stuff on my computer, but I got used to it last spring watching DWTS online. Overall, its pretty good deal. $3 and you get 1-3 days (depending on the movie) to stream it online or download it. That’s def gonna save me some $$ when Im trying to acquire all the AFI films.

Anyways, this is one that’s been on my list of “”movies I really need to see”” for a while. Mostly cause I keep coming across references to it. Sadly, coming across references also means that I sorta knew one of the big twists at the end, but I dont think it really impacted the film other than decreasing some of the shock value.

This was a very well written mystery story, although the placing was just a tad slow for me. The story was very streamlined, without a lot of distractions. And I absolutely loved Jack Nicholson’s character, private investigator JJ Gittes. Its always a sign of a good movie and a good character when you watch something like this and wish you had their profession. He was slick and cool and smart and crude. And Nicholson just owned it. I’ve had mixed feelings about him in general. Granted, I haven’t really seen too much of his classic work (that’ll change over the next couple months) so my usual thought about him is “”that crazy guy at the Lakers games””. Keep in mind, Im a die-hard San Antonio Spurs fan, and there’s been some bitter rivalry there. That aside, The Departed taught me what a \m/ badass he can be, and Chinatown helped prove where that reputation came from.

Another thing I have to admit is that I didnt quite “”get”” some of the details and motivations and such. However, I am in the habit of reading IMDB trivia and FAQ’s immediately after seeing something and that actually cleared up a lot of that confusion. Some of that stuff’s pretty intense.

Also wanted to comment on the 1930’s style. From my limited viewing of 1930’s movie, it looks like they nailed it completely (Chinatown was made in ’74). I got a total His Girl Friday vibe (okay so that was released in 1940, but early 1940) right away. And while older movies dont usually do it for me, something about that totally sucked me into this one.

That’s 2 movies down, 98 to go and lovin’ it so far.”

Toy Story (AFI #99)

“Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. ..(points if you get the reference)

Hey howdy hey everybody (however many body’s there may be tonight)! We’ve finally reached the kick off day for Expletive Dleted! As you prolly know, I’ve been reviewing movies on for some time now and Im amping it up a notch this fall. Besides blogging about flicks in the theater, Im also gonna blog my way thru AFI’s 100 Years 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition. And I got this shiny new blog and a Twitter account to go with it. So without further ado, here we goooo

I’d originally intended to kick off the project/experiment/time-killer with a movie I haven’t seen before. Buuuut tonight’s the last night of the Toy Story 3-D double feature special engagement thing, and I prolly wont get to see any of the other AFI movies on the big screen anytime soon. So I figured it was apropos enough.

I love Toy Story. It’s still easily my favorite Pixar movie. I know I did see it in the theater back in the day. I can’t remember the exact experience, but I do remember what a big deal it was that it was a computer animated movie. I’d grown up watching classic Disney animated films (hey I was a prime target for the second golden age of Disney in the early 90’s) and the idea of computer animated just boggled my mind. Little did I know that within two years I’d be sick of the whole computer animated fad and I’d be aching for a classic hand drawn animated feature (thankfully we now got Princess and the Frog looming on the horizon). Anyways, Im guessing that animation breakthrough is the reason why Toy Story made it onto the AFI list.

I was sitting in the front row (well the front row of the back section) and as soon as it started, I instantly became five years old again, or actually I guess I was prolly about 10 when I first saw it. I’d just forgotten how incredible this movie is. The dialogue is so clever and the concept is brilliant. The animation is gorgeous and I love their attention to detail. There were so many subtle jokes here and there (such as the For Sale sign on Andy’s house from Virtual Realty) that I’d never noticed before.

And I just loved listening to Tom Hanks’ voice. Its so easy for actors to just phone in a vocal performance, but Hanks really gives it his all. He really makes an animated toy character real and believable.

Im not convinced that the 3D-ness really added that much to the overall experience. It was exciting for the first five or ten minutes, then I sorta didnt notice it anymore. By the third hour of the evening, it was actually starting to get a bit headachingly irritating.

I did kinda lose a lot of the excitement by the time we got to the second half of the double feature. Toy Story 2 just doesnt measure up to its predecessor. And by this point, it was already getting kinda late. But seeing them back to back was interesting because again there were some many little subtleties that I wouldnt have picked up otherwise.

So it was a wonderful start to what’s gonna be an interesting movie season for me. Let’s just hope they’re all this fun!”