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.”

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 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.


Vertigo (AFI #9)

“This is one of the ones I’ve been most stoked for. Alas, outside circumstances got in the way of what woulda prolly otherwise been a fantabulous movie watching experience.

Stayed a bit late a work and was in a mood when I left. So that put a damper on the evening to begin with. Then I start watching the film and about 30 minutes in, it freezes up on me. I take out the DVD, try wiping it off, and put it back in. The best I could do was skip 5 minutes, which was acceptable. But another 10 minutes later, the same thing happened. So I gave up, shelled out 4 bucks, and streamed the HD version from Amazon. Downside there, besides it being really annoying to queue up, is that I lost the subtitles. And with all the sirens outside and other assorted noises, that makes following dialogue quite difficult. I was also distracted by a really addicting game on my ipod. Its this one where you have a whole bunch of blocks that can only slide in one direction, and you need to rearrange them to free the red block. Had to actually get up and put the ipod in its dock to keep me from playing for a while.

Between all of that, I was only catching bits of it here and there. And I swear, I really was trying to pay attention. I had to IMDB the full synopsis to make sure I got it all, and it really does sound wicked cool. Im just gonna hafta give it another watch when Im in a better mood and much more awake.

I do love James Stewart oh so very much. He’s def one of my fave parts of the AFI project. Was really struck by Kim Novack in this one. And of course, this goes without saying, but Hitchcock is a \m/ genius. I love how he can take something really ordinary and use it to scare the shit out of you. In Psycho it was a shower. Here its a large staircase. Yep, he’s another check in the WIN! column for this whole quest of mine.”

The Wizard of Oz (AFI #10)

“Wooo hooo! I finally reached the top ten, just only a little bit waaaaaay behind my anticipated schedule. But my distractions should be down to a minimum for the next couple weeks. Here’s hoping Im done before arbitrary goal number 10 or so. This “”deadline”” is June 8th cause that’s when Green Day Rock Band comes out. I’ve already promised myself a Wii and Rock Band as a yay-im-done present.

Speaking of promises, I swore I’d go back to my more comprehensive write ups once I hit the top ten. Guess I gotta try and stick with that, huh? Right.

Wizard of Oz. I very much did grow up with this movie. Although I do remember being terrified of it at some point. Not sure why, but I think it was just the witch in general. But second grade sorta made this movie have a permanent special place in my heart. Why, you ask (or not)? Let’s take a trip back thru memory-ville with Dawn Dawn.

Throughout elementary, there was a group of parents of my classmates who dubbed themselves the “”Moms and Dads Club””. They were responsible for events and get togethers and all sortsa fun things for us kids that would also give them socialization opportunities. Now you know how most towns have some sorta big festival celebration thing every year? Well, Laredo’s thing is Washingtons Birthday Celebration. Dont know why, but yeah that’s our thing. Basically most of February is this big city wide party. When I was little I cared for two reasons: 1-the good carnival was in town then, B-parades! There were always 2 parades during this whole thing: the youth parade on a Wednesday night, then the main event the following Saturday morning. When I was in first and second grade, the Moms and Dads Club was in charge of organizing my school’s float for said parades. The overall parade theme back in first grade was “”We are the world”” or something like that. We picked Holland cause that’s where our principal came from. And yes, we were forced to listen to “”We are the world”” on loop throughout the whole \m/ thing. The next year, the theme was movies. And as upset as I was that stupid United Day got Aladdin, ours turned out not to be too bad. As you prolly guessed, cause otherwise it wouldnt be relevant in the slightest to my post, we had The Wizard of Oz.

There was a lottery thing to decide whose kid was gonna have what part. In the original lottery, me and all the rest of the second grade girls were supposta be emerald city girls. Then the chick who’d drawn Dorothy had to back out–and the role passed to me. I dont remember all that much from it. Again, I was like what, 8? I remember I couldnt pet my stuffed Toto because then I’d get black dye all over my hands. I mostly stayed in the munchkin land side of the float, surrounded by all the kindergarteners until when we stopped in front of hte judges table, I’d skip along the yellow brick road collecting “”friends”” until we ended up on the Emerald City side. And I also developed an immense hatred for wigs. Apparently my hair wasn’t Dorothy-esque enough on its own, so they put this itchy curly animal on my head. *shudder*

So since then, my mom’s always collected Wizard stuff (in particular Dorothy stuff) for me.

Thus endeth the Dawn Dawn backstory. Thoughts watching it this time around:

I can’t remember the last time I saw this. There’s so much I’d forgotten, or never got to begin with. But it still magically produces warm fuzzies in me. Also this time around I have a great appreciation for some of the effects. Its not exactly something I woulda noticed when I was 8, but when you think about what limited resources (compared to nowadays) they had back then, it really is incredible what they were able to accomplish.

I guess I sorta, I dont wanna say forgot about this film, but how about mentally misplaced it for a bit (if that makes any sense). I really shouldnt let so long go by before my next viewing

As a side note, I still need to see Wicked. Hoping to catch it this fall when it comes back yet again to Boston.”