Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coming up this week #25-21

#30-26 Richard Gere is my Rollerskatin' bodyguard!

30. My Bodyguard

This movie offers more than just seeing Adam Baldwin (Serenity, Chuck) in his very first role, and Matt Dillon in one of his earliest films. It's a really well written story with plenty of 80s teens to laugh at.
The story focuses on a young man who moves to a new school and won't lie down for the current school bully. Although too little to do much on his own, he hires another student that most everyone is afraid of as his own bodyguard. The bodyguard has a troubled past and no friends. So naturally they begin to hit it off.
While the film is categorized as a drama it is a really light drama with quite a bit of comedy.
Nominated for a WGA Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen.
I have to agree that the writing was really well done. It lost the award to Melvin and Howard, which I have yet to see.
Verdict: 4 stars
I originally thought this would only get 3 stars because I felt most of my enjoyment was just in seeing some of these actors in such an old role. But looking back it was really much more than that.

29. American Gigolo
Sauve or sleaze?
A young Richard Gere plays a gigolo the ladies just can't get enough of. Then he falls in love and gets set up for murder all at the same time. A bit convenient eh?
I was actually surprised by this one, though. The story stayed interesting throughout with the whole murder set up storyline.
The cheese factor is high with this one, and almost all of it falls on Gere. But I must say the man can act, which helps keep this somewhat believable, and at the least intriguing.
Awards: Nominated for 2 golden globes
Best Original Score - Giorgio Moroder
Best Original Song - Blondie (Deborah Harry) for Call Me
I really didn't really feel much eight with the overall score of the film, but the hit song by Blondie would have been impossible to ignore.
Verdict: 3 stars

28. Xanadu
Poor Gene Kelly.
As his last feature film, all copies of this one should be destroyed.
It took me five days to get through this. But, I didn't give up, and that's really too bad. But I think I can officially declare this the worst musical I have ever seen. That may or may not be related to the fact that there were more scenes taking place on roller skates than any other film EVER. And no, I don't know that for a fact, but feel free to try and prove me wrong, I think you will find it is quite difficult.
Olivia Newton-John plays a muse who is sent through a graffiti'd wall to help some poor painter open a club with Kelly.
Everything about this film screams disco ridiculousness.
Nominated for 6 Razzies with 1 win.
I can't believe this only won one razzie. I think it should have sweeped Also nominated for worst musical from past 25 years in 2005. Although I can see how it failed to win, it was up against some big films: Glitter, Justin to Kelly, Spiceworld...
Verdict: 1 star

27. Raging Bull
A lot of this movie made me feel disjointed and uncomfortable.
My mind pounded on a major flaw in the idea that I was supposed to feel sympathy for this tortured boxer, and I didn't.
I stopped watching the movie about half-way and restarted it a few days later. Then it started to click.
I wasn't supposed to feel sympathy for him. I was supposed to be sucked into his neuroticisms, and that's probably why I was feeling so uncomfortable. It's just too well done.
Unlike watching Pacino in Cruising and the whole time my mind keeps saying, hey, that's Pacino. De Niro in Raging Bull is Jake Lamotta. After the first few scenes you really forget who you're watching. Maybe it's the fake nose that helps. The same can't be said for Joe Pesci, but that's probably more because they call him Joey, and not his acting to blame.
The boxing scenes are brutal to watch, not because of blood, but because of the emotions. De Niro's character seems to let everything in him build up until he gets in the ring and then lets it all out. Whether it's him serving the punishment, or taking it.
The scenes are brilliantly filmed, but never in a way where you feel the look of the scene was more important than the story it was telling.
I'm actually really glad I stopped watching this one and went back to it. If I hadn't I probably would have missed the great use of sound. To me, if the sound is done well, you don't really notice. but on my second viewing I was able to start picking up on some of this. Whether it was the use of music that would seem inappropriate for almost any other boxing scene, Or the sound effects used to heighten the emotion of a scene, it all added to the total experience.
Awards: Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, winning 2.
Won Best actor in Leading role for De Niro. - Agreed
Won Best Film editing for the work of Thelma Schoonaker. -Agreed
Lost Best Picture to Ordinary People.
I haven't yet seen Ordinary People, but I find it hard to believe the Academy would still vote this way looking back.
Verdict: 4.5 stars
I know, I know. After such a positive review how could I not give it 5? I still don't like how it made me feel. I don't think I could sit through the entire thing again. I'm not saying it isn't a perfect example of how film should be made. It's just not a perfect film for me.

26. Bronco Billy
The movies I find the hardest to write about are ones like this. There wasn't anything too terrible about it, yet nothing that would ever make me watch it again.
In this on Clint Eastwood directs himself as Bronco Billy. A cowboy trying to keep his wild west show alive with barely an audience.
A rich daddy's girl gets left in a hotel with no car and Bronco Billy is there to haul her around with his show.
The storyline is nothing fascinating, but interesting enough to keep me watching.
Clint does a good job playing somewhat of a satire of himself I feel.
Verdict: 2 stars

Monday, June 1, 2009

#33 -#31

Tess, Fame, John Carpenter's The Fog

#33 Tess
I've enjoyed a few Thomas Hardy books, although not the one this is based on. It also received a great deal of critical praise in its time, so I was eager to see this one.
I was disappointed, but not by a great deal.
The film looked amazing. The costumes and settings looked great. The story-line was interesting, although a tad slow. But overall the pieces just didn't fall into place for me though.
3 stars
I said I was disappointed, but I still liked the film.

#32 Fame
Okay, I almost feel a little guilty about this, but I enjoyed this one. I thought it was going to be extremely cheesy. But I really didn't think so. There were a number of laughs along with characters I actually cared about. And the music. It added a lot to the film, even though its a bit dated now.
4 stars

#31 John Carpenter's The Fog
I am pretty speechless with this one. I wasn't expecting much and boy was I surprised.
After watching the terrible Prom Night I thought Id be in for another lame horror film with this. But it's not.
This is an absolute marvel of a film.
I plan to watch this again and write a more detailed opinion at a later date, so for now I will just say. If you enjoy movies, see this one.
5 stars

Friday, May 29, 2009

#34 Altered States

My senses were so assaulted I was able to watch an entire episode of Fran Drescher's The Nanny, without cringing, immediately after this film.

I will preface these thoughts with the following statement:
I am a writer. This movie is overly visual and substantially aural, with little attention paid to the words, dialogue and storyline. Therefore, I immediately find flaw with what may be, to some, an incredible film (although I doubt it).

That said, I found this movie to be ... interesting and weird. Which is not to say it wasn't fun to watch. I like interesting and weird.
I think I'll just launch into the problems I have with this movie. It feels like it is meant to stimulate your senses above all else. The dialogue uses a lot of big words, which shows you that the characters are intellectuals, but really has no more use in the film than that. In fact, a good portion of the dialogue is nothing but empty words. So much so that there are times it is unintelligble, either due to other noises, or layers of people talking over each other.

The actors do a good job, pushing the story along through a lot of expression. Not that there is much of a story. I mean once I removed all the imaging and sound and cut this movie down to it's basic storyline, it's incredibly weak.
A man experiments with hallucinations to the point they become externalized and he regresses into a caveman state, physically and emotionally.
Then he takes it a step further and regresses into the time before man. All this is surrounded by a really lame story about a man and a woman who get married, are getting divorced, and then end up with each other in the end.
*spoilers over*

2.5 stars
I almost liked it. I think it would have been better without all the noise. The visuals were interesting, although very dated now, and overused. The scene when the man regresses into a caveman and heads to the zoo is incredibly hilarious. Although it wasn't meant to be. I think that scene alone made this movie get that extra half a star, cause I could watch that scene over and over again.

Nominated for 2 Oscars - best original score and best sound.
Disagree and agree. I didn't even notice the score much, so I can't really agree that it was worthy of an Oscar nomination.
I did read that this movie was using some sort of new sound system developed by Warner and placed in certain theaters, so for the time the sound was probably all very exciting. Now though, it's all pretty much noise compared to the subtle use of surround sound that can be so artistically employed nowadays.
Nominated for a Golden Globe - New star of the year for William Hurt.
Agree. I thought his performance was subtle, yet perfect for the film. It's his acting that allows a viewer to stay with the movie throughout the assaults of image and sound.

Box Office
This movie must have had some sort of good word of mouth surrounding it. It was initially released in 3 theaters and went on to gross almost 20 million dollars, which seems pretty impressive for this style of movie. I'd love to dig up what it was that caused so many people to seek this movie out. My guess is a lot of drugs, but who knows.

#35 Song of the South

This was re-released in 1980. It is not widely available for good reason, and I didn't feel like hunting it down. I feel no loss skipping this film.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

#36 Cruising

Al Pacino is Cruising for a killer.
That's the tag line to this one. And it pretty much sums it up, once you know what they mean by cruising.
Pacino is a low-on-the-totem-pole police officer who gets a chance at detective by doing some heavy undercover work. He is thrown into the Hardcore S&M homosexual scene due to his looks in order to catch a killer.
This movie has a LOT of men and a LOT of leather.
Supposedly this was very controversial when it came out due to it's portrayal of gay men, but I think, like the disclaimer said at the beginning of the dvd, this is simply one type of group the movie is portraying, not anyone as a whole.
Unfortunately, I found Pacino's acting to be sub-par for him. Which is still better than most, including the rest of the cast.
The storyline was good enough to keep me intrigued and some of the visuals were pretty stunning.
3 stars
I liked it. Might even watch it again someday, but I don't think I could really recommend it to anyone. If you're a big Pacino fan though you wouldn't want to skip this one.

#37 The Octagon

Sit tight and wait for the fight.
This movie starts off slower than molasses dripping uphill. But I suppose the filmmakers wanted this to be more than just an action flick, so they try really hard to set the movie up and introduce the characters. Unfortunately, if they'd have just kept it all about the action it probably would have been a lot better.
The star of this film is definitely Chuck Norris. It was probably written for him to show off some skills and draw in the fans.
Not much to say for the plot. Secret Ninjas killing people. Norris must fight someone from his past. Pretty standard stuff. The movie ends strong when we finally get to see some really good fighting.
There is a lot of fun to be had with this movie though. Some pretty cheesy lines and ridiculous inner monologues
Visually it's hard to comment on this movie. I watched it on AMC. And while the visuals weren't bad, it seemed very dark,, and overly grainy for this time period, as if it was shot this way on purpose. if it was it didn't seem to add anything to the film.
2.5 stars.
It wasn't bad, but it didn't offer much past mild entertainment. Although if I watched this with some friends the rating would probably go up, as I could see having a lot of fun with this one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

#38 The Aristocats

Good music, cute kittens, and characters that actually develop throughout the film...
still can't add up to a movie I'd be excited to show my child.
The Aristocats is definitely not a bad movie. But it's nothing too special either. It has a pretty good swingin jazz soundtrack. A good story about an upper-class mother and her three kittens that are saved by a lower class alley cat.
Unfortunately with the good things this movie had, it moves along far too slowly to keep me interested.
It's hard for me to judge the animation of this movie because I'm not that familiar with other animation of the 70s but this one seemed very stale, and didn't help with the pace.

2.5 stars
If my daughter is really into cats or jazz I will show her this movie someday, if not I think it would bore her out of her mind.

Friday, May 22, 2009

#39 Honeysuckle Rose

Clocking in at almost a full 2 hours, Honeysuckle Rose is a struggle to get through ... If you don't like Willie Nelson.
Lucky for me I don't mind watching Willie and Family perform.
Nelson plays a traveling country singer named Buck whose long-time guitarist retires. Buck's new guitar then becomes the daughter of the old guitar player, and she seems to have a VERY large crush on Buck.
The film follows Buck and his band (Nelson's actual touring band) as they embark on their tour, leaving behind a wife and small child.
It is a story I don't find very original, but still got very sucked in.
If you don't like Willie Nelson though, I think you'd have a hard time sitting through all the performances waiting for the story to continue. Not to say the performances aren't needed, most of the time they are used to progress the story. However, I could easily see this film being cut down by a good half hour of Willie performances and not really lose much.

4 stars out of 5
It was nothing groundbreaking or even very original. But the story was really well told and the filming was good, especially the concert pieces.

Nominated for a Best Music, Original Song Oscar for the song On The Road Again.
Disagree - It should have won. This is not that great of a song, but I find it funny that the song lost to a song from fame. I think you'll find this one has a bit more lasting power to it. Of course by the time the movie was coming to an end, I was a bit sick of hearing it.
Won a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie for Amy Irving.
Disagree - I thought she played the part perfectly and didn't even deserve the nomination, much less the win.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

#40 Herbie Goes Bananas

Next time my wife rolls her eyes when i ask her to watch a movie with me, I think I'll just skip it.
I won't say I had high hopes for this film, but I vaguely remember seeing some Herbie movies as a young lad and enjoying them.
My guess is I never saw this film.
I didn't expect anything too deep, but did expect a light children's movie with some laughs and ridiculous situations.
I got the ridiculous situations, but no laughs were involved, at all, really. NONE.
After watching about a half hour I thought to myself, well maybe Harvey Korman can save this movie for me as his role gets bigger. Wow, did it not save anything. His acting was overwhelming and cliched, and the worst part is it was terribly unfunny. Not that he had anything to work with, so I can't blame him. He's a great character actor, and when the character is this lame, so it goes.
And yes, I am probably coming down way too hard on a "kids" movie, but I doubt there is any reason for anyone to watch this movie, child or adult, unless they are a MASSIVE Herbie fan.
.5 star(s) out of 5.
Yeah, that's right half a star. I really never would have thought that rating was possible, but it is now after seeing this movie. I can't imagine giving it to another movie, so let's hope this one stays unique.