Citizen Kane (AFI #1)

“WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AFI PROJECT COMPLETE! It only took me, she said sarcasitically, 8 months almost to the day. I _really_ never dreamed it would take so long. More than twice my worst case scenario timeframe, but hey, its done!

Planned a low key victory party last night, which ended up being rather poorly attented. The roomie and one other guest were here for the movie, then we were joined by another person once the Rock Band portion of the evening commenced. It was still fun, and 4 people means no fighting over Rock Band instruments.

Okay, so what did I actually think of the movie? I was quite pleasantly surprised by it.

The biggest WHAAAA??? for me is how light most of the film was. I’d always imaged it was this really intense drama, but it was really funny (though it was still a drama, not a comedy) and had a lot of very tongue-in-cheek moments. After that realization, we all sorta sat up and paid even more attention, really getting absorbed by it.

Also, this is one of those few instances where Im glad I was spoilt for the film (dont worry, I’ll still be crytpic, I wont say anything). I’d learned long ago was “”Rosebud”” was, even though I had zero context for that information at the time. Knowing that got me to pay a bit closer attention to some key scenes, that I woulda otherwise missed. I think I woulda been somewhat pissed off (not to mention confused) finally finding out the answer the mystery cause it wouldnt have felt very satisfying. As it was, the two other peeps here were surprisingly unspoiled, and they were incredibly confused by it.

Now, the million dollar question: Do I believe this really is the greatest film ever made? Noncommittal answer: I can definitely see where it gets that reputation. The film was pretty damn near flawless (bout as close as you could get). Incredible and intriguing narrative, superb cast, great direction, and masterful effects for its time (I need to rewatch the scene where he’s speaking to a large crowd. IMDB trivia tells me the crowd was a photograph with holes in it that they’d pass a light through to give the effect of movement).

I find the typical “”Greatest Movie Ever Made”” debate tends to fall between this and The Godfather. Personally, I prefer The Godfather, but I think that’s just cause I like my stories dark. I find that, in general, people on The Godfather end of the debate tend to be more passionate about it, but I can also see how that film would be more offputting to some. Whereas Citizen Kane feels a bit more accessible, and likely to be better received by more people (if less fervidly). Kane does have the special effects (for its time) win, so I guess that’s another thing that ultimately gives it an edge.

But ultimately, quite happy that I finally saw this film, and I really did enjoy it. I feel so much more educated now :-D”

The Godfather (AFI #2)

“Squee! Just one left! Citizen Kane viewing/Rock Band victory party still on track for Sat. Boston area Facebook friends can expect invites soon, as Im working on that as soon as this write up is posted.

I feel like no matter what I write about The Godfather, there’s no way in hell I can \m/ do it justice. It just really is one of the greatest movies ever made. A fellow movie enthusist once pointed out that this is one of the few 3 hour films that uses those three hours effectively (the only other example we could come up with at the time was Magnolia, but Im sure there’s a few others). And its so true. The movie is so engrossing, it just flies by. I was actually a bit concerned I’d miss movie time for Get Him to the Greek cause Id lose track of time watching this one.

Still remember the first time I watched this. One of my best buddies realized that neither of us had seen this, which was abhorrent and unacceptable so we remedied that first chance we got. And both of us were just in awe, basking in the awesome of all things Italian.

The characters are so cunning and complex. The plot is so twisted and terribly engrossing. The actors top notch. The direction brilliant.

I also highly recommend the book. I read it a couple years ago. The movie follows it pretty accurately, but there’s so much more. There’s more elaborate backstories on the characters (my favorite being more stuff on Johnny Fontaine). And its a pretty easy read too. It also helps clear up some of the confusion, or at least I still cant keep a lot of people and motives straight.

Guess I should prolly stop cause all Im doing is gushing. And Im getting sleepy.”

Get Him to the Greek

“I’m trying a new philosphy (or something) for picking movies to watch. Im trying to accept the fact that I dont absolutely _need_ to see everything that’s playing at the theater that I have the slightest interest in. I should only go to the ones I really wanna see, and skip the ones that feel more like a chore. We’ll see how that goes, but for this week that translates to me only planning on viewing one of the four major releases. Screw you Killers, Splice, and Marmaduke (not that you ever had a prayer in hell). Congratulations Get Him To The Greek. If only you’d been better to me.

As most of ya’ll know, ..Greek was a semi sequel, more of a spin-off really, of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Borrowed character, hazy timeline, and unfortunately new writers. I did rather love Sarah Marshall. I was a bit on the fence about it after the first viewing, but it grew on me as I processed it and I loved it by the time I rewatched it on DVD. However, in going to see Greek today, I should have been a bit more aware of the fact that I really couldnt stand Aldous Snow (played by Russell Brand) in Marshall, which is a problem given that this whole movie is about him. I guess I somehow thought that being immersed in his screentime, I’d somehow just go with it. I was wrong.

Now before I get into the negative, I should note that I think Im in the minority on these feelings. Clearly, Brand’s career took off as a result of Sarah Marshall. And the majority of the sell out crowd (we were in a small auditorium) at today’s matinee seemed to disagree with me as well. I think it all comes down to (as it often does) just being a different style of comedy than I typically like.

I go for the smart, clever stuff, meaning witty dialogue and the unexpected, unexpected usually including a far amount of offensive. For exhibit A look at just about anything by Kevin Smith. I can also go for the other end of the spectrum, the really dumb stuff that’s best at 2 AM when drunk. Dude Where’s My Car comes to mind. Greek’s primary comedic weapon was WTF-itude. There was just so much that was messed up and random. But to me it felt a bit phoned in I guess. Either always saw it coming or didnt find it in any way inovative or imagintive. Sorry.

To his credit, I will say that Russell Brand did kinda grow on me a bit by the end. No, dont expect me to run out and pick up his My Booky Wook or anything like that. But there was a surprising amount of arc to his character and I was into it. I adore Jonah Hill, but his style reached a new level of awkward here, another thing I dont particularly go for. I kinda think he peaked back in Superbad. I got my fingers crossed for him that he’ll get that level back. Was very happy to see Elizabeth Moss, since this is the first time I’ve seen her as not Peggy Olsen (stuff I’ve seen pre-Mad Men doesnt count). P. Diddy had some moments, but he also had a bit too much of the awkward comedy thing going.

While its on my mind, what’s up with all the trailers lately that include scenes not in the movie? Im not sure how I feel about that.

The one big positive I can give is that there were some righteous cameos. Wont spoil cause half the fun is in the surprises.

I guess in summary, one of the reviews I skimmed earlier this weekend had the right thought. It was something along the lines of if Aldous Snow was your favorite part of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then Get Him to the Greek is definitely for you. Otherwise, you might wanna steer clear.

Get Him to the Greek – \m/ \n

Casablanca (AFI #3)

“Victory Wii has arrived. I may have cheated and started playing it already. But Im keeping the movie watching my priority. Rock Band is scheduled to be here on Tue.

I think Casablanca is the movie on the list that I’d most wanted to be able to say that I’ve seen. It gets referenced so often, yet I felt pretty in the dark about the whole thing. So happy to have seen the light, as it were.

Biggest impression is that the dialogue is all so classic and beautifully written. One line after another after another that have been immortalized in film over time. I’ve said many times before that dialogue is capable of making or breaking a film for me. I wonder how much snobbier I’d be about it if I’d grown up on this venerable verbiage. And all of it delievered beyond perfectly by Humphrey Bogart and the rest of the cast. I talk about eye candy a lot. This was def ear candy.

One thing Im curious about, just how many of the AFI’s are related to WWII in some way? Seems like an awful lot. Guess there really are a million different stories to tell about that period of time.

Yeah so add Casablanca to the list of reasons why the AFI project was worthwhile.”

Raging Bull (AFI #4)

“So. Close. Almost. There.

Rewind a few months. Once I’d decided to undergo the AFI project and figured out the basic logistics, I made a first run to Best Buy to acquire movies. Raging Bull was one of the ones purchased then. And its been sitting on my shelf taunting me ever since.

Turns out, I think we got a situation of too much anticipation. For one, just being ranked so high on the list is gonna set the bar way up there. For two, I absolutely adored Rocky and Raging Bull is held in even higher esteem. For three, couple words: Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese.

Then what happened? I swear I was paying attention at the start. But it just lost me. Maybe it was too slow at the beginning, or spent too long focusing on the Jake/Vickie thing (or dropped it too quick). I dont know. But I was bored by the time we reached the halfway point. I coulda kept going on my sewing project, something which is usually quite helpful in getting me to focus on a film, but I just didnt wanna.

Once my attention was drifting in and out, more out really, I’d catch bits here and there that seemed intriguing but I still just couldnt get myself into it. Maybe if the first half hadnt let me down so much it woulda gone better.

Kinda sad to have such a negative outta one I’ve been on edge for for so long. Oh wells. C’est la vie. Done, done, and Im on to the next one. Done, Im done, and Im on to the next.”

Singing In the Rain (AFI #5)

“Im still a few movies shy of the end, but I ordered my victory present last night. It should in theory get here right when I mostly finish (still planning to save #1 for a movie night next weekend). Yup, finally getting a Wii. And Rock band. And Green Day Rock Band. Im excited.

As a bit of a musical theater geek, Singin’ in the Rain is one (like many were on the AFI list) that Im loooong overdue to watch. And boy was it worth it.

I’d noticed lately that a lotta times I tend to tune out during musical numbers in movies. Not the case here. That’s when I’d drop whatever distraction I may have been holding on to, and paid full attention. I particularly loved “”Make ‘Em Laugh”” and not just cause I was thinking of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s rendition of it on SNL (damn you YouTube for yanking all clips of it!). I know I’ve said a lot that I dont particularly care for visual humor, but I think thats cause no one does physical comedy like that anymore. While I might not find it laugh out loud funny, Im still mesmerized by its sheer awesome. Oh and that song also made me think of The Full Monty (musical, not movie) and Ethan’s (I think it was Ethan) obsession with trying to run up the wall like Donald O’Connor cause it was as close to dancing as he could do. And of course that one rehearsal where Misha put his foot thru the wall practicing that scene. Memories.

Bringing it back before I digress too much. So much of that movie is just epically classic (can I even say that?). That preview showing of the movie, brilliant. Loved loved loved the characters–Cosmo, Lina, Don–some of the best written and best portrayed ever.

I will admit that it did kinda lose me here and there. Didnt really go for the long modern musical sequence towards the end. But even with that, still a wonderful movie watching experience in general.”

Gone with the Wind (AFI #6)

“Jesus, why were there three 3+ hour long movies in a row on the list? Luckily this was a holiday weekend. Movie going plans for today fell through, so I was able to fit in two epics. Should keep me on track to finish the project within a week. Well, mostly finish it. I kinda wanna do a big movie night for Citizen Kane since I’ve had a buncha people say they’d be interested in watching it. For those in the Boston area, Im thinking a week from Sat if I stay on schedge. We’ll see.

Gotta be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about watching this one. I’d seen it once before, back in 7th grade in my Texas History class when we were studying the civil war. Everyone at my school whole heartedly agreed that Texas History is the single most boring subject you can take there. So that on its own tainted this film for me. Also, I just didnt get it back then. I didnt remember too much other than Scarlett had a bunch of husbands although she was always whining about some guy named Ashley, and I didnt like the ending.

This time, such a different experience. Maybe it was the magic of Blu-Ray (stunning visual. Very worth the upgrade), but I really got into it today. And that’s that I’ve struggled with a lot of the AFI’s, in particular the lengthy ones. Strangely, I really did care more about the love stories than the war. I guess thats cause the characters are so compelling. At the same time, I equally hated Scarlett and wanted to be her. Rhett is so dashing, I was falling in love with him thru the whole thing.

Its such a full (that sounds like a weak word) film. Between all the character stuff, and the civil war fall out, its kinda intense. And a bit \m/ up for its day, I think (Im particularly thinking of “”Maybe you’ll have an accident…””). With all that, the four hours flew by like nothing, when there’s def been some films less than half that length that seemed painfully long.

By the time we got to the last five minutes, I was on the edge of my bed holding my breath. Some of the most intense moments of cinema ever, and thats that I knew exactly what was going down. So yeah, very glad to have rediscovered this one. I like that I’ll be able to think fondly on it, instead of groaning every time I hear the title, as was previously the case.”

Lawrence of Arabia (AFI #7)

“Im cheating a bit. The flick isnt quite done, but Im \m/ starving and I have every intention of running down the street to Ufood Grill the second the credis roll.

This is prolly the movie I had the most reservations about when I first saw the list. Granted, that’s mostly due to the fact that I hadnt realized just how many 3+ hour movies there were. Also, a friend of mine back in college had tried going thru the AFI list, starting at one and counting up. He gave up at Lawrence after about 3 unsuccessful attempts at watching it. Rather daunting indeed.

Turns out, the miniscule bit I thought I knew about this film, wasn’t even accurate. I’d always assumed that the Muppet Babies were parodying Lawrence in this episode (important part starts at 6:00), but apparently not. I just assumed lots of sand, Kermit in a turban, that’s what it had to be.

So I did kinda set myself up to not really get into it, mostly by lining up a few little side projects to work on the meantime. But once I settled into it, it wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t so greatly interesting either. Not sure if its cause I glossed over so much of the beginning or because I really didnt give a \m/, but I couldnt really follow any of the politics of it.

Characters seemed okay. Particularly liked the young servant guys. And points for Alec Guinness.

Sorry, I know I promised to be more comprehensive when I wrote up the top ten, but I really can’t think of anything else ‘cept that chicken sandwich waiting for me down the street.”

Schindler’s List (AFI #8)

“Before I get into this movie, I got some other film related spit to talk about from this weekend. I’ll just give you the quick version.

Yesterday I went down to NYC to see Behanding in Spokane and God of Carngae. Got to Behanding early and was able to catch Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, which had me so \m/ giddy. Then after Carnage, I caught Lucy Liu on her way out of the theater. Such one of the best days ever. I still can’t get over meeting Rockwell. He’s been a fave of mine since Choke. Yeah, still on cloud 9.

Shifting gears slightly. I swore to myself I wouldnt go on a movie buying binge until the AFI project was done. My queue of unwatched movies (not counting the now 7 AFI’s left) is at like 25. Then I saw a blurb in Boston.com about a sidewalk sale at a movie store in Brookline, so guess where I went this afternoon. Cleaned up good though. 13 movies for 48 and change. Not too shabby. Now, I swear, with the exception of new release Tuesdays I will hold off on the film acquisition.

Now we’re into the actual movie write up. Schindler’s List is one that I’ve always known I needed to watch, but its tough to actually sit down and \m/ do it. You just dont wanna go for something depressing when there’s a million other things out there. But its number was up on the AFI project, so here I am. And oh God, it is everything they say it is. So good, and powerful, and depressing, and I wanna say awesome, but I mean it in a more geniune sense of the word than I usually use.

Such a compelling and interesting story. I really didnt know what I was in for, other than it was supposta be one of the best Holocaust movies out there. Liam Neeson was just fantastic, and I absolutely loved Ralph Fiennes as well.

And I just lost my train of thought. Sorry.

I did get distracted by things here and there, such as a phone call from mom, and a neighbor blasting Glee which made for a very interesting soundtrack. All that did sorta take the harsh edge off the film. I did wanna be paying more attention, but its tough when run time is over 3 hours.

Also, that last sequence is just so beautiful. There were some pretty harrowing images throughout, but the end was beyond brilliant.

Damn.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Times

“I was gonna wait until I finish Schindler’s List to do my Prince of Persia write up, but Im so \m/ giddy from this movie I hafta do it now.

In short, I _loved_ it. Went in not expecting much, but knowing that if nothing else I’d have some tremendous eye candy. The whole thing (eye candy included) went waaaay beyond expectations.

What I think most impressed me was how much it really did feel like a video game. For those not in the know, yes, this is based on a game. I used to be somewhat of a gamer back in the day. I dropped it ’round junior high or so, but every few months I’ll pick up a game and play obessively for a few days or weeks then drop it again for a while. Come to think of it, Im long overdue for my annual three days of Zelda (Majora’s Mask) that have a tendancy to pop up here and there. Anyways, Im giving ya’ll that bit of backstory to show that yes, I know very well what a game feels like, and Prince of Persia hit that right on. What do I mean? Well, in a lot of the action sequences, particularly some of the early ones, you could actually envision what that level must’ve looked like–where he was jumping to, how the bad guys popped up, etc. Hafta say, incredibly directed (by Mike Newell) in that sense. The potential downside there is that some of the moves were kinda superhuman, more than any parkour master could handle. But thinking of it in video game context suspended that disbelief quite aptly.

Another plus was that it really did have that typical Disney atmosphere of fun. I’d been kinda confused about it being a Disney thing, expecting it to end up being too soft and un-hardcore, but that wasnt the case at all. Think somewhere between National Treasure and Pirates, if that makes any sense.

And now, the obligatory paragraph where I gush about how much I love Jake Gyllenhaal. For those of you who have no interest in that, please feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph break. If you’re sticking around, dont say I didnt warn you….Oh my God, I love Jake Gyllenhaal so \m/ much. I was swooning and mooning (not that definition of the word) over him the whole time. That charming crooked half smile of his (you know the one) is a deadly weapon, and he pulled it out every 10 minutes. Plus the long hair (a well known weakness of mine, however two notches below guyliner) and the newly acquired uber buff physique. Oooh. I wasn’t sold on the accent in the trailers, but damn that did indeed fit him very well. I’d previously held that he was at his hottest in Donnie Darko, but Persia totally blows Darko outta the water. He also gives Bubble Boy a run for his money on charm. Allow me a moment to collect my thoughts before moving on.

Far as the rest of the cast, I do love Gemma Arterton. She’s been on my radar since Quantum of Solace, cause I thought she was the superior Bond girl in that flick. The playful chemistry she had with Gyllenhall this time around was superb. Wonderful, nearly scene stealing (nearly, cause um, did you see Jake? Can’t steal a scene from him. Sorry, I’ll stop) stuff from Alfred Molina. And Ben Kingsley just always rocks.

A few minor gripes, but nothing that will detract from my rating of the movie. The first big gripe is too many snakes, but that’s just cause Im ophidiophobic. Next minor gripe is that it borderline dragged on too much. There was definitely a sense of “”why the \m/ is something else going wrong”” and you coulda done without some of that crap. And real nitpicky complaint is that I couldnt understand what any of their names were. They were unusual and not pronounced with any consistency between actors. But at least they were all different enough from each other than it only caused mild irritation and minimal confusion.

Yeah so def a fun fun movie. Not as stupid as it looked like it had the potential to be. Highly recommended. Winner for the summer so far.

Prince of Persia – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/