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.”

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/