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.”

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.”