2001: A Space Odyssey (AFI #15)

“This entry is likely to be on the short side for two reasons:
1-My wrist has been acting up, and its hard to type with a brace on
B-I have a purring kitty resting on top of me, and the alternative if I disturb him is that he’ll be walking across the keyboard. And yes, death glares are comin’ from the other kitty as expected.

I was excited to see this movie. I really wanted to love it. But I just didnt get it. I understand that this is one of those that you hafta watch a bunch of times. However, to be honest, I dont know how gung-ho I am about that idea. I’ve said this multiple times before on this blog, I like narratives. I want to be told a story. There wasnt much of that going on here.

Yes, the visual was \m/ stunning. I like being able to watch a movie and try to guess how effects were done, and not having the answer to that question default to “”CGI””. And I’ve only had the uber tv for a week, but I’ve already noticed that poorly done effects look kinda silly on it. There was no silly-ness here. And the visual gags were my fave part of the whole thing. Especially in the first space sequence, I just loved all the imaginitive gadgets. The pretty effects with the pretty classical music was another good touch as well.

Something else that didnt quite work for me personally was the lack of dialogue. I completely understand the point behind that (no sound in space), but thats another surefire way to lose my attention. I guess I might’ve been a bit more into it if I had gotten it all in one sitting. I sorta fell asleep part way thru on Sat and didnt have time until today to finish it. C’est la vie.

Anyways, as mentioned on Twitter the next thing on tonight’s agenda is to Hulu Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosting SNL. Yup, slept right thru that too. Haven’t actually watched an ep of SNL in a while, but I’ve absolutely loved that boy since he was on 3rd Rock From the Sun…Aaaand break.”

2012

“I’ve been too distracted by the new tv and need to watch a few movies on that shiny Blu-Ray (I could seriously count stubble hairs on Spock’s cheek…whoa), which is why there’s been a few day hiatus here. But I should be back on track now.

I’d been on the fence about whether or not I wanted to see 2012. These type of movies are rarely better than mediocre, and the trailer just annoyed me. But I promised the roomie (and strangely, within an hour of that someone else tried to get me to go with them) and I figured with as much of the country that was running off to see this, that would make it a fairly blog-worthy flick. So off I went.

It actually wasn’t bad. Yes, it was flawed. These type of movies are inherently so. And yes, it hit on every cliche of the genre–predictability, corny dialogue, science fail like whoah, deus ex machina like a mother \m/, but it succeeded in its primary goal: entertainment.

Was a bit too far on the lengthy side. 158 min according to IMDB. I felt a lot of the first half could have been streamlined. The second half was really suspenseful, edge of your seat, heart in your throat sorta thing. Roland Emmerich (writer and director, also responsible for ID-4 and Day After Tomorrow) stated that this was to be his last disaster movie, and he wanted to make it the be all end all of the genre. Well, it was. It crammed in every possible thing you could imagine–fire, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis–the only thing missing was aliens. With this typically mediocre genre, you can’t ever really get better. What you can get is bigger, and 2012 certainly delivered there. It will certainly be hard to top the sheer magnitude of this film, and I fear that Holllywood will unfortunately try some point in the future.

One of the key elements to a disaster movie is that you need good characters. Otherwise, who gives a \m/ ? While these characters weren’t particularly great, I did come to care about their well being. John Cusack has really grown on me in the past year or two, and he’s a great choice for the All American Dad. Chiwetel Ejiofor aka the Operative in Serenity, played what was prolly my favorite character, the scientist dude with a heart. Oliver Platt annoyed the \m/ outta me like always, but I think that was intended here. Really liked Thandie Newton, and points for Danny Glover as the president, even if he’s no Morgan Freeman (Deep Impact) or Dennis Haysbert (24). And even more points for Woody Harrelson, cause I always love finding him in movies.

I wont even start on the scientific inaccuracies. We all know how bad that can get. I’ll just say, that they went as far as contradicting themselves. Thats just special

And the amusing antecdote that goes with this film. Walking out of it, my roomie turns to me and says that at first she couldnt believe all the fuss with one of the characters trying to save her dog. Then she looked over at me and realized I woulda done that for Lestat. At which point, I pointed out that she’d totally do that for Nosferatu. Yeah, I love my vampire kitties. Anyways…

2012 – \m/ \m/ \m/

City Lights (AFI #11)

“I was half expecting this post to be pretty much the same as Duck Soup–not my style of humor, watched it for my Comedy class soph year, understand its significance. But what I hadnt realized that time before when I saw this is how absolutely \m/ beautiful it is. Seriously, gorgeous movie.

AFI ranks it as #11, which means that it’s the highest ranking one I’ll be getting to any time soon. The plan is to go in consecutive order for the top 10 once I’ve seen the other 90. On one of their more specific lists, they rank it as the #1 romantic comedy of all time. If Sandra Bullock, Kate Hudson, or Katherine Heigl could make a rom-com like this, I might actually not despise the genre.

The images were so georgeous and heartfelt. Yes there was some slapstick, and no I wasnt really laughing at it, but Chaplin is so sincere in his work. How could you not fall in love with the Little Tramp? He moves with such fluidity (okay except maybe for that waddle) that its almost like choreography. This was the first of his movies to be done during the sound era. He had to fight to get to do a silent movie. The result is that the score fit the movie absolutely perfect, and the sound effects they could added in were a great touch.

Those of you who folow me on Twitter know that I watched the original Nosferatu this weekend, which is also a silent movie. That one was made about ten years before, but City Lights was just such a superior picture. I had two sound options for Nosferatu–a recently composed score by a full orchestra (which kinda sucked, and thats that I dont know much about these things) or the original score just on the organ (which had the right feel, but got old really fast). If its music was done half as well as City Lights, that would have been one fantastic picture.

Anyways Im rambling now. In other news, if you notice on the tracking sheet for the AFI project, I am now a quarter of the way through the list. Thats taken me just over a month, which is slower than I would have liked. But I’ve accepted the fact that I prolly wont reach my arbitrary end of the year goal and Im okay with that. I just hope I can keep at this steady pace. In the meantime, my non-AFI movie queue is starting to pile up quite high. I dont think Im likely to run out of stuff to watch for the next couple months.”

A Serious Man

“I’d been on the fence about this one. I absolutely \m/ love the Coen bro’s dramas (Fargo, No Country…) but dont so much get their dark comedies. I’d heard some good things about it, but also didnt think I was the right target audience (Im not Jewish). Yeah, I was right.

Most of the rest of the theater (good size crowd for a Mon night) seemed to really enjoy it. I just didnt get it. Apparently it was supposed to be a Job type of story. Knowing that now, it makes some sense. But I also didnt get most of the humor, and I dont think this shiksa was supposed to.

It definitely had the WTF feel I come to expect from the Coens, in particular the end. Thats one thing I can always count on them for–a great ending. If you’re looking for closure, something wrapped up in a neat little bow, you’re not gonna get that here. But if you want a clever ending, they never disappoint. That earned it an extra half rock hands in my rating.

What I did find amusing was that the leader, Michael Stuhlbarg, seemed like a perfect cross between Eugene Levy and Quentin Tarantino. And I can honestly say I ever expected to describe someone like that. It was Levy’s look and mannerisms with Tarantino’s voice and way of talking.

Well, Im almost ashamed to give my rating for the movie, because its not that it was bad, its just that the movie was lost on me. But if I cant get into a movie, Im not gonna enjoy it, soooo

A Serious Man – \m/ \n

The Best Years of Our Lives (AFI #37)

“Gonna try to type out these next two entries with a kitty who likes walking on the keyboard. He seems particularly fond of the help key.

I was trying to come up with whatever excuses I could to push off Best Years Of Our Lives. At a glance, it didnt seem to have much going for it in my book–really old, post war drama, 3 hours long. But the fates kept pushing for it. It was in the middle of the biggest gap in the list, other than the top (I should get one of the 10-15’s in soon). Weekends are good for the long movies, especially given that I was planning to start at 6. And the DVD was hanging out in the stack. I was gonna hafta get to it eventually so I put it on. I was quite pleansantly surprised.

The movie’s about 3 war vets (WWII I think) who meet on the flight back to their home town. And it follows them as they adjust to their new life. Yeah, it didnt sound that interesting to me either. But those three characters (and the rest of ’em really) were just fascinating. And their stories were so gripping.

My favorite of the three was Homer played by Harold Russell. He actually won two Oscars for the role–best supporting actor and a special Oscar for being an inspiration to war vets–the only person to ever get two for one role. He’s an actual double amputee, who lost his arms in an accident while training paratroopers. They rewrote the role especially for him. Originally his character was supposed to have had some type of PTSD. He was just fabulous and I absolutely fell in love with him.

I’d actually started this one last night, but there were some distractions (not entirely kitty related this time) that kept me from finishing it. At some point after I’d started it, I realized I hadnt checked Best Buy’s sales this week and found a _really_ good deal on an HDTV and Blu-Ray player. So I ended up calling home to discuss with my Daddy. And this morning I went to Best Buy and bought them. The tv is being delivered on Wed. Im excited.

Finding a chance to finish the movie was a bit of a predicament. I had plans for this evening, and didnt wanna hafta wait til Tuesday. I was working from home today, which usually results in me putting on a movie for background entertainment. Even though I knew I wouldnt be able to catch everything this way, I just had to know how it ended so I watched while I was working. Not the best option, but I really didnt feel like being patient.”

American Graffiti (AFI #62)

“I cant quite get my head around the fact that this movie was directed by George Lucas–yes, that George Lucas. Its just such a different style. The one thing he gets mega points for on the directorial front with this film, is that (acc to IMDB) he’d do a lot of single take scenes. The actors would sometimes flub lines, but as long as they stayed in character, that was the shot that was used (examples are when Carol gets hit by a water balloon and also when Terry brings the booze to Debbie in the car). Adds a lot of realism to it.

The best part of the movie was definitely the soundtrack. No contest there. Such classic oldies–Johnny B Goode, Runaway, Barbara Ann, Surfing Safari, Maybe Baby. I’ve just added all of them to my download list. Often times I wasn’t even paying attention to the scene because I was rocking out. Yeah, I know. Punk rock princess over here rocking out to oldies. Deal with it.

There wasn’t much in the way of plot, which meant that I’d lose interest here and there. But I did really like some of the characters. Milner was my favorite. Definitely perked up whenever he was on screen. And points for Harrison Ford, singing One Enchanted Evening (just the beginning of the clip).

While the plot didnt quite grab me, I found it really intriguing as a period piece. The 60’s is easily my favorite decade that I didnt live through. Although I usually like the stylized uber colorful version (think Hairspray). But this was a great real vision of the decade. I was also fascinated (that word choice seems strange) by the whole cruising concept. I dont think I’d ever really seen that before. Growing up I used to always hear about teens crusing down San Bernardo back home, and I never understood what was so special about it that it was such a big thing. Now I get it. Do the kids still even do that anymore?”

The Wild Bunch (AFI #79)

“Its kinda unfair to this movie that it got picked for today. I could not pay attention at all. Reason? New Kitty. Yup, the cat hunt saga finally came to an end this morning. Nosferatu Sylar is six months and the sweetest little thing ever. I just hope it doesnt take Lestat too long to make friends with him.

I really dont have any comments on the movie itself. I kept on having to stop and restart due to kittyness (and laundry). What I should do is rewatch it later. But given that I dont particularly go for westerns, Im not sure that I’d end up paying more attention to it anyway. And even when I was able to sit thru a good chunk of it, it wasnt quite grabbing me.

So, Wild Bunch, I am sorry, but you have been defeated by an itteh bitteh kitteh.”

Duck Soup (AFI #60)

“I realized that I keep on picking movies that I want to see, and skipping over those that I have no interest in. I figured I should mix in a few of the ones that Im dreading now, before Im only left with a whole bunch of movies Im wary of. Duck Soup is one on that list.

I’d actually seen this one before. I think it was soph year that I took a (primarily) literature class called Comedy. Besides a few books and plays, there were a few movies we watched. Since I couldnt make most of the screenings, I half.com-ed them, which turned out well since 3 of those are on the AFI list: The Philadelphia Story, City Lights, and Duck Soup. I’d also ended up getting Noises Off and His Girl Friday. And we saw Eddie Izzard’s Dress to Kill (which was my favorite part of the class), but I already owned and loved that.

I totally get why this movie is considered one of the best movies of all time. The slapstick is masterful and all the puns are expertly delivered. I just dont find that stuff too funny. I laugh when a joke catches me off guard, not when I see it coming from a mile away. A lot of it was also just too non-sensical for my taste (taking a pair of scissors to every cuttable object you see? really?).

I’ve said before that plot is important to me. I like to be told a story. For this movie, the plot was very thin secondary to the comedy. It was basically there to connect all their schtick–not good for catching my interest (again, personal opinion).

I’ll close with an amusing anecdote. I heard once that when interviewing some really high up there politician (who I can’t remember right now) a reporter once asked him what his thoughts are on the situation in Freedonia, and what we can do to correct it. The politician then went on a tirade about how awful the situation was and our responsibilties toward it, blah blah blah. Yeah um, Freedonia is the ficticious country that Groucho Marx’s character is the leader of in Duck Soup. The reporter was running a bullshit test. The politician failed.”

The Men Who Stare At Goats

“New release Tuesday at Best Buy! Stopped there on my way home. Bought my first Blu-Ray: Up. No haven’t upgraded my system yet, but Disney does that combo pack thing where they give you a DVD and BluRay disc. Figured since I should hopefully be getting that hook up in a little over two weeks, it was worth buying that now. And Bones is on sale. Just got season one. I expect to lose focus on the AFI project as I try to get in episodes of Bones in between.

Enough of that. Tonight’s movie, The Men Who Stare At Goats. I went in there with zero expectations. Entertainment Weekly gave it an F (I just read the review and theyre just being whiney). This weekend it had been in the big auditorium, but tonight they moved it to a little one. And I dont typically put a lot of trust into George Clooney’s movie choices. At least for me, they’re very hit or miss. All of that equalled not such the best outlook. But we all know what happens when you go into a movie with zero expectations–I actually kinda enjoyed it.

The main comment I’ve got is WTF?! Every other minute, there was another WTF moment. Kinda felt like a Coen bro’s movie. But I was chuckling at every one of those WTF’s–as was everyone else in the overcrowded tiny theater. And there was one moment that got every last guy in the audience to groan out loud with sympathy pain. That amused me.

Most of the film didnt make sense, but I went along for the ride. Well I guess its not necessarily that it wasn’t sensical, more that it was just over the top absurd. However, I felt that our main guys, Ewan McGregor and George Clooney had enough charisma to pull it through. Was also very amused by all the “”you can be a Jedi like one of us”” talk at Ewan, who as well all know played Obi-Wan in the Star Wars prequels. That got a smile outta me every time.

Props to the supporting cast as well. Kevin Spacey was a total scene stealer, and I love him for it. Also wanna point out Glen Morshower, who plays Aaron on 24. Aaron is the only character other than Jack Bauer to be in every season, and he’s one of my faves. Wasn’t particularly special in Goats, it just made me happy to see him.

Yeah, so totally didnt deserve the F that EW gave it. This is why I get upset at movie critics, and why Im scared about being an amateur one. One person’s opinion shouldnt determine the fate of a movie.

The Men Who Stare At Goats – \m/ \m/ \m/

Midnight Cowboy (AFI #43)

“Started this as soon as I got home. Thought maybe I’d be able to end it early enough to at least start another to make up for yesterday. But, as luck would have it, something was wrong with the disc and it took me a good 30-45 min to see everything in chapters 25 and 26 of the film. And Im totally kicking myself for not being a receipt saver, cause I got this from Newbury and could have gone back to exchange it. Oh wells. Rock & Roll.

Despite that set back, I really liked this one. Some of the early stuff was light and funny, but then other parts were dark and intense. But the best part–Dustin Hoffman. It seems like he moves up my respect ladder with each film I see him in. This performance is right up there with Rain Man. I could try to explain the awesome-ness of him in this role, but I think you just gotta watch it for yourself.

Jon Voight was also quite wonderful, although I really could not get over seeing him so young. And I spent about 80% of the flick trying to figure out who he looked like. I was convinced it was a current young thing, but it eventually hit me–John Schneider as Bo Duke. That revelation amused me because when I saw old school Dukes of Hazzard, I couldnt get over young John Schneider after seeing him as Jonathan Kent on Smallville. But it was great seeing Voight in one of his signature roles, instead of the type of stuff he’s been in lately. Bit of trivia about his recent work, when he was filming Holes he took Shia LaBeouf under his wing as his acting padowan. He’d give him homework assignments, making him watch classic screen performances.

Another thing in the yay! column was that I really liked the dream sequences and flashbacks. My favorite was early on when Voight was chasing Hoffman thru the subway. That sequence more than anything else up to that point really hooked me.

Not sure how intentional this was, but I found it cool how there were a lot of X’s in the movie–the windows at the apartment, the conversation about Rizzo’s dad. Reason why Im intrigued by that is the movie was originally rated X, and its the only X rated movie to have ever won Best Picture. Two years later the rating did get knocked down to R when X became almost exclusively associated with porn. I can kinda see how it woulda gotten that rating (which would be like NC-17 now) back in the late 60’s, but not so much by today’s standards.

Well Ive got a kitty crying at me for her dinner, so that’s my cue to peace out.”