To Kill a Mockingbird (AFI #25)

“Happy Slapsgiving, er I mean Tofurkey Day, um Thanksgiving! Managed to get a movie in before turkey-ing. The tentative Xmas Carol IMAX trip didnt end up happening, but there was a rather enjoyable watching of Fanboys. But thats not the important one (for purposes of this blog at least)

Most of us prolly read To Kill a Mockingbird in some point in junior high and high school. Along with The Outsiders and Animal Farm, its one of the few required readings I remember enjoying, or at least ones that come to mind easily. We saw the movie in class and I loved it then too. Im actually thinking I should pick up a copy at Border’s tomorrow, give it another read. And this time I wont have any essays to write on it.

The characters are just so compelling. Its no surprise that Atticus Finch has the number one spot on another AFI list–top screen heroes. He’s just so smart and compassionate and fair and loving that you cant help but admire him. And Gregory Peck portrays him perfectly. No wonder he wont that Oscar. Also adore the tough little tomboy Scout–another one of the best characters ever written.

AFI also ranks this as the number one courtroom drama, for good reason. The courtroom scene is fantastic, and such a great and fascinating story that really gets you thinking. I usually do a lot of fidgeting and pausing when Im watching a flick at home, but I hardly left my seat (or more acurately, lying down spot).

There isnt really much else to say. Again, most of ya’ll are prolly familiar enough with the story to know what Im talking about.

And on that note, Im off to plan my shopping tomorrow *evil grin*”

Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire

“Got a green bean casserole in the oven, and Green Day’s performance of “”East Jesus Nowhere”” on SNL with special appearance by Will Ferrell and his cowbell (not a euphemism) playing in the background. Life is good.

Was really psyched to finally see Precious. Its had so much buzz that I was just dying to find out what it was all about. Ultimately, I think it mighta been a bit too hyped, setting my expectations a nudge too high. But everything they say about the amazing cast is absolutely \m/ true.

First of all, I absolutely support anyone who says that Mo’Nique deserves an Oscar nod for this role. Dayum she was a-\m/-mazing. Her bit at the end nearly had me in tears, and I def heard a lot of sniffling around me in the fairly well populated theater. Im not particularly familiar with her work, but from her repuation I know that this role is quite the transformation, and she \m/ sold it. I was actually uncomfortable during some of her early scenes when she and Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe (Precious) were fighting. I felt like I was actually watching real events happening, and I had no place to there. Thats something that was so good about the movie–it all felt so real. More on that in a bit.

And Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe had such range. Her “”real”” character and her “”fantasy”” character were like two completely different people. She really carried the film quite well, and earned the audience’s sympathies. Was also really impressed with Paula Patton. Points also to Mariah Carey, another actress with a very uncharacteristic role.

Back to the realism of the film. That whole world is something I guess I never really wanted to know existed, and it was a bit of a wake up seeing those intense scenes. Makes you realize what all you take for granted, y’know?

Not sure how much I support it as a front runner for best picture, but would not argue it getting a nod ‘specially with the whole new 10 nominees thing.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire – \m/ \m/ \m/

Unrelated side note. Big movie plans for the weekend, both theater-wise and catching up on the AFI’s I slacked on the past week. Tomorrow: AFI movie in the morning, Turkey Day stuff, possibly Christmas Carol at the Imax. Friday: Black Friday shopping (w00t) and Thanksgiving 2 with the hallmates. Likely no blogworthy movie. Saturday: Dawn Dawn “”double feature”” of The Road and The Messenger. Details unclear. Both are at the Kendall, but its not a good double feature theater (sub-par snackage options). Might catch The Road at the Common instead. Will figure out later. Hopefully 2 AFI movies that day too. Either one before and one after or two late ones. Sun: AFI movie, Fantastic Mr Fox, another AFI movie. Some point during next week (likely Tue): New Moon. Hopefully the Twi-hards will have died down by then. And AFI movies on the other days.”

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.”