Sunday, October 24, 2010

Random Ratings of 2 recent films

Had the privilege of going out on a movie-date with my husband last week. His amazing boss offered free babysitting AND gave us movie vouchers so we could have a grown-up night out.
We chose to see 'The Town', opening that day here in Australia.
Such a frikkin awesome film! I'd heard great things - namely, that "Ben Affleck should stick to directing, cuz he's awesome at it". And indeed that is the case. A film with such a brilliant cast it hurts, 'The Town' is not only great action, great plot and great writing, it's got heart.

Thoroughly well done.
(and psst, I even thought Benny boy was great in his role. And he's lookin a bit hot here, for the first time. mmmrow)

5 out of 5 monkeys

Watched this over the weekend -was very keen to see it, especially after the Oscar nods (and win for the phenomenal Jeff Bridges).
Well acted and very depressing was the film. But something about it just didn't click for me. Or bored me, rather. This story has been told many times before, and while this was a decent take on it, I still think it gets only about 3 1/2 Monkeys.


Rear Window - Hitchcock (1954)

Not on the list - but a classic thriller I recently watched for the first time. LOVED it! Such dramatic tension. They don't make 'em like that anymore, that's for sure, the drawn out thriller.
Loved the cheesyness even, of the climax bit.
And Grace Kelly is dreamy, purrrrre dreamyness.

So well done. I kindof wish I was a forced peeping tom.

4 out of 5 monkeys

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. THE definitive spaghetti western. A Sergio Leone masterpiece.

Again, not on the official list, but on my list. And I recently borrowed a stack of dvd's from a friend, so am going through some films such as this and Full Metal Jacket.
So I agree it's a "masterpiece"? No. Not in my book, but I am indeed swayed by a general dislike of the western genre.
Highlights for me in watching this?
-the score. love love love that music.
-the cinematography and direction, which are great even by today's standards.
-seeing the direct links to Quentin Tarantino's films, and just how heavily influenced Tarantino is by Leone's spaghetti western style.
-Clint Eastwood, yummy yummy yummy, as a young attractive cowboy. ssslp.

I hate to admit it, but I am definitely with the oodles of fans who agree that this film, at 2 hrs 41 min, is seriously too long. I'm an impatient viewer, even with such a great epic western as this.

The dragging out the plot seemed to be a way for Leone to keep on with such spectacular landscape shots - however, that isn't quite enough for this viewer.

All said and done, I am Not a Western fan. At all. But the stylised spaghetti western, with its humour, wasn't too too bad.

I suppose if I were in a more relaxed mindframe to take in such a slow, laborious journey as this, I might agree more with Rotten Tomatoes' 98% rating. Por moi, it gets a stern

3 out 5 monkeys.


Full Metal Jacket (1987)

I'm back!

And without further ado (nor excuses) I will immediately dive into blogging my review...

Full Metal Jacket!
A Stanley Kubrick classic & highly regarded film, and one in which I had never seen until now. Alas, it is not on The List, but it has always been on my personal list of Great Films I Should See.

It's funny - I never would have thought of myself as a lover of "war films". But, as it turns out, I realise I really do love me a good war film. With such a huge, catastrophic subject matter as 'war', a film that is done well on this subject is beyond riveting.

And so was the case in this, my first viewing of Full Metal Jacket.

The first half of the film built such a sense of the life of a recruit, the dehumanizing effects of boot camp & war in general. I wasn't surprised that the brilliant Drill Sergeant, played by R.Lee Ermey, was a real-life Drill Sergeant who originally was only meant to consult with Kubrick on the film, but ended up in the role due to his persistence. Jack-assed and overbearing with insults, Ermey was no-holds barred. making the murder-suicide by 'Gomer Pyle' (so strange to see a young Vincent D'Onofrio, whom I only associate with Law & Order, hee hee)seem wholly inevitable.

Apparently, this was the first film to depict the severity of boot camp training, and I can only imagine how in-your-face this must have been in '87 with its release.

But the second half of the film, depicting a slice of war life in Vietnam, was even more gripping. I felt the same tense captive-ness I felt while watching 'The Hurt Locker'.
But Kubrick also manages to create moments of humour, and uses music in a quite ironic way. Brilliant stuff.

I also am amazed that the film was shot in England! - flying in both fake & real palm trees, recreating a replica of the destroyed city of Hue - all to avoid flying, as we all know Kubrick's immense fear of flying & refusal to do so.

Righty. Well, I am definitely not rested enough to intelligently discuss this masterpiece of a film as well as one should. But for the sake of my blog & project in watching Classics As Yet Unseen, I will sihn off here with my rating...

5/5 Monkeys!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick) - 1968

At #26 on The List is Kubrick's science-fiction masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This film is perhaps one of the biggest gaps in my filmic knowledge. Despite it being the all-time Favorite Film of many many friends and relatives, including my own father, I have never seen it.

Heh, well, firstly and most importantly, I dislike sci-fi.
I dislikes films that take place in space (generally speaking and Star Wars exempt). And furthermore, I am not the biggest Kubrick fan.

So it's no surprise that this wasn't quite my cup of tea.
That said, I really did (am) giving it a fair go.
I use the present tense in brackets because I am simultaneously typing while watching said film. Or rather, I watched 45 mins last night with my hubby (who incidentally is another person who loves the movie) before bed; Now, we are at the 1 hr 28 minute mark, and while I don't *dislike* the film, I am rather impatient and finding it slow-go.
So I will use my ability to type without needing to look at the keyboard while I watch the rest of this film.

From a purely visual point of view - this film is MINDBLOWING. Even by today's standards, but one can only imagine the impact it made in 1968. And I would love love love to see it on a big screen.

I'm not necessarily one who like films that are visually spectacular, but lacking in other areas. I do appreciate that film is, in and of itself, primarily a visual medium. But I truly believe that a film that lacks cohesiveness of the visual with other aspects of film, fails inherently.

2001: A Space Odyssey quite obviously doesn't fail per se...
But, and this is rather unpopular to say, I must agree with the critics who've said that it was "somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring." and "2001 is a disaster because it is much too abstract to make its abstract points."

The film is slow.
A tad boring, minus the oooo-ing and aaah-ing over the gorgeous shots and nifty cut-aways, or the few captivating points of creepiness (usually coinciding with excellently haunting music).

Where is it goooooing, for god's sake?
What about plot?

I hate the too-abstract. The purposefully and pretentiously abstract.
And seriously...3 minutes in the frikkin dark, with nothing but manipulative music to set the scene, as a start to the film?
Puh-lease, Stanley Kubrick.

Apparently the book is excellent, and explains things which Kubrick has purposefully left vague, for viewers to prescribe meaning unto. My husband has pointed out gaps which the book explains -and also offered that the novel is on the shelf, should I ever want to read it (...hmmm, can't quite see that happening).
And I'm not an idiot who needs things to be spelled out to me, Hollywood style.
I just don't find myself riveted by the concept.

I like my films with a large side helping of meaning and emotion.
I know the themes tackled in this film were large and "profound", but the way in which they were handled left this viewer less than dazzled.

But hey, at least I know have basis for the zillions of references to this "epic film".
And I was dazzled by visuals and brilliant use of music/sound.

So, 3 out of 5 monkeys then.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Third Man (Carol Reed - 1949)

"Alright, Calloway, you win. I'll be your dumb decoy duck"

Oh Zither, Zither, how I can't get enough of that zither sound...

Number 65 on The List is Carol Reed's post-war British film-noir classic 'The Third Man'. One of my favourite films already, it was a pleasure to watch it again after some time.
I first encountered this film in the film class, where I studied it whilst living admist Eastern Europe, in a setting that nearly matched that of the film. It was exciting to watch this film while living in Prague, and seeing it now takes back to 2001, and the cobblestoned streets thereof.

An excellent mystery, The Third Man is the story of Holly Martens, "a hack writer who drinks too much", who arrives in sketchy, black-market-ridden post-war Vienna, to find that his friend (the wonderfully named Harry Lime) is dead. Circumstances surrounding his death are sketchy, and Martens is determined to find out 'the truth'.

The suspenseful and well-crafted solving of that mystery is just part of what makes The Third Man a great noir.

Also remarkable is, of course, the fantastic & quirky musical score (zither!), and the black & white "expressionist cinematography", in particular - bizarre camera angles. Add to this the dodgy eastern european characters and locations, and the brilliance of Joseph Cotte, Allida Valli and Orson Welles' performances, and you have one grrrreat film, which I definitely give

5/5 Monkeys

Friday, July 2, 2010

(Mistake - Correction)

I wrote an entire blog about Sex IN the City. Which should have obviously been Sex AND the City.

I'm more sleep deprived & mush brained than I thought.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Touch of Evil (1958) - Orson Welles

So so so so so good. Loved this film. Love Orson Welles' work. Love this genre of film - a dark, brooding film noir (supposedly the last film noir from the classic noir era - early 40's to late 50's).

Coming in at #54 on The List, this is one film that probably should be a bit higher up than it's slot.

I wish I could say I watched this uninterrupted, curled up with a coffee in a cozy winter living room - but the truth is that it took me three days of stopping & starting to finish this fantastic film (ahh, life). I intend to one day watch it properly, that is, so that the flow of the film is not lost.

I am pressed for time at the moment and will dot point random thoughts about this wonderful piece of cinema, as opposed to a review of sorts.

A. It has to be said - why oh why is Welles such a fatty boomba in this? Hee hee. He is on a looong list of famous male celebrities who were hot in their youth, but turned into unattractive fatty boombas (Elvis, Brando, Travolta, Jack Nicholson, etc etc).

B. What's with Janet Leigh and hotel rooms? Sheesh. :)

C. The kidnapping scene of Leigh, in said hotel room, is absolutely terrifying, in a very unusual way. Well done, well done, that scene.

D. Charlton Heston is freaky looking. Spray tan a'la trying-to-be-mexican? Hmmmm...

E. Welles' performance was astounding. His giant physical form was menacing on screen. He towered over every one and every thing, it seemed. I marvel at how one can act and direct with such clarity.

F. Marlene Dietrich! WOWZA. awesome gorgeous, slightly haunting performance, in her small supporting role. Welles' captured her unique face with such divine use of light and shade.

G. A review of this film would be nothing without mention of the famous opening tracking shot- but there are, in my opinion, even more notable moments throughout the entirety of this film, in terms of brilliant filmic technique and excellent shots (lovely low angles, for instance). Welles was ahead of his time, it seemed, in making cinema. Or perhaps it is more a case of his creating a new style of cinema, pioneering new technique.

Well, that's a wrap.
I wish I could discuss this film in a more intelligent way than "I loved it" and "Orson Welles is obese", but I'm incredibly sleep deprived at present and can only muster the above.

5 out of 5 monkeys

Next up - "Mr Smith Goes to Washington"
"The Third Msn"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rubbish in the City (2)

Well, I'm halfway through 'Touch of Evil' (which IS actually on the list), but alas I am going to write a quickie here about my recent viewing of 'Sex in the City 2'.

I finally got around to taking in a 'Babes in Arms' session at the wonderful Westgarth last week. Awesome concept, which I plan to take advantage of more often, especially while baby is still immobile and will sleep in me arms.
Anyway, they were playing Sex in the City 2, which as you can imagine was quite popular amongst the mums. :)
I knew this film got absolutely panned, and was expecting it to be bad. And bad it was.
That said, it was also quite fun. Albeit, in the incredibly shallow contrived way you might expect.

Let's back up...
much to my husband's horror, I actually enjoy the tv series SITC. Infact, most of the ladies I know do - somehow, it appeals to many "types" of women, myself included. It's a guilty pleasure. It's fun, it's girlie, it's fluffy. I am not one of the women who like it for the whole fashion aspect - I honestly couldn't give a hoot about a Prada bag or a pair of Manolo Blahnik. Sure, I do mildly enjoy the fun crazy Carrie Bradshaw outfits, but that's about it.

I also completely understand why SITC (the series) would anger people. It's shallow & sometimes vapid content is questionable. And then of course there's the main reason why my hubby despises the girlie franchise - he referenced an early episode whereby Charlotte encounters an uncircumcised man, and is utterly appalled by his genitals. I haven't seen this episode in question (there's huge gaps in my SITC viewing), but apparently Charlotte provides the gentleman with an ultimatum, in that she insists he gets circumcised before the relationship continues (and/or a sexual relationship ensues).
My husband's point - and a very good one - is that if the shoe were on the other foot, and a tv series had a man asking a woman to mutilate/change her genitals, rest be assured we Chicas would be outraged. And so should we all be at this particular episode in question.

Anyway, I digress.
I am WAYYYyyy off topic.

The first SITC movie was grouse. Loved it. Well, hated hated hated the plot factor of Carrie taking back Mr.Big. But it was a lovely little film.

And they should have stopped there.

This second film was devoid of many things...plot and integrity mostly.
There were some entertaining and fun bits ('Lawrence of my Labia'...Charlotte & Miranda's candid talk about motherhood...Liza Minelli's "All the Single Ladies" cameo -wow, what legs she has for an elderly lady!).
But there was a distinct lack of substance and a potent sense of desperation to this venture #2 in film. Seriously, ladies, why did you agree to this?

Ah yes, and the answer would be - $$$$$.
As the scathing reviews of the movie state, ANY SITC movie WILL bring in generous revenue, despite any bad criticism of the film. Loyal fans and ladies worldwide love the SITC franchise, and will pay the ticket price no matter "how awful" the film is reviewed to be. Hell, I did it meself.

My biggest issue with this film? (Well, besides having to endure Sarah Jessica's Parker's drag-queen-esque face in closeup from the 5th row of a large screen theatre).
Carrie Bradshaw's heightened sense of shallowness and selfishness.
The way she treats her husband is not grounds for role-model status nor protagonist behaviour.
Big buys her an anniversary present (a plasma screen tv, installed just near the bed), which Carrie instantly rejects as awful, and whines about how "a piece of jewelery would've been nice".
Um...ingrateful bitch?
Who would have the gumption to do that?
then, to make matters worse, she whines like a big baby the entire movie, kisses another man (her ex, Aidan) while overseas, and is REWARDED upon return to her husband, who produces a giant ring for her to wear as "punsihment" for her infidelity.
I kid thee not.
Awful. Just plain awful.
As were the terribly convenient plotline of Charlotte's fear of Harry cheating on her with the nanny, which was conveniently wrapped up by the nanny being revealed as a lesbian. And the out-of-nowhere gay marriage between "the two gay best friends", who've hated each other throughout the series, but somehow found love.
Not believin it.
I could go on and on, especially in regards to the horrible shallowness of the girls' trip to the middle east, the posh princesses amongst minimum wage servants, but I won't. Because I've taken up farrrrr too much time on this film.

Friend Nellie & I were chatting about my film blog project last week (Hi Nellie!) and she encouraged me to write a scathing blog of SITC 2, so I hope this was a bit feisty.
I shall return to life outside of Miranda, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte.

P.S. This film received a whopping 16% of rotten tomatoes! SIXTEEN! that is lowwww folks, laughably bad. There were also some doozies of reviews on RTomatoes that cracked my shit uppp. Some great one liners:
"Sex and the City has turned into a bloated juggernaut of pointlessness. Its female characters are now beyond unbearable, none more so than Carrie."

"Whenever the light is just right and the angle is just plain wrong, each star gets an unflattering close-up that leaves them looking like drag-queen stand-ins."

With SATC2 we were supposed to get a peek at what's next. Instead we got a fanciful vacation and a lame and fluffy version of female power.

1.5 Monkeys / 5

Friday, June 25, 2010

'PRECIOUS' (To get back into the swing of things)

Well ,why not get the ball rolling with some review, ANY review, to perk this halted blog up.

I rented a stack of movies yesterday, all on the list except 'Precious', which I've been wanting to see since it hit theatres last year (And after the Oscars, even moreso!).

Knowing lots about the story of this film, I was deeply afraid of how difficult it would be to watch. There's a part of me that is slowly losing the ability/desire to watch such horrific depictions of things (such as abuse, in this film's case), simply because I see it as somewhat exploitative. That being sad, Precious was carefully constructed in such a brilliant way that I never, ever felt there were any gratuitous displays of violence/abuse.
Crafted artfully, in such a unique cinematic style, Lee Daniels' award-winning film truly struck a cord. He pushed the envelope with this, going to a very dark place, unafraid to show ugliness. I absolutely adore his style of filmmaking - his storytelling is quick, sharp & poignant. I like directors who don't insult their audiences by "spelling it all out". Daniel's storytelling & editing is seamless and moves forward at such a perfect pace, as if you're given a gliding-over sense of Clarice "Precious" Jones' sad sad life.
The juxtaposition between the grimy, awful life circumstances of reality - and that of Precious' numerous dreamscapes - is incredible and extremely telling in and of itself. You could watch this film without any sound and know exactly what was going on.

When he does slow down, the potency of what is being said is all the more hardhitting. Nothing illustrates this example more clearly than the climactic scene, in the social worker's office with both Mary and Precious.

Wow wow yikes yikes yikkity yikes.

So. Hard. To. Bear.
I haven't seen anything like Mo'Niques acting, particularly in this scene, in a very long time. She plays Mary Jones with such originality, and without any stock-characteristics one might be tempted to utilise when portraying a mentally-ill, incredibly abusive person.

Mo'nique is utterly deserving of the Oscar for this performance.
Her speech, in that (second to) final scene there in the social worker's office, is heartwrenching. I found myself cringing and not breathing, stuck in a state of horrified disbelief. I also felt this overwhelming sense of pity, much like that of which was plastered all over (Mariah Carey's) the social workers face.

For the first time in the film, you feel this utter sense of pity for this monster of a woman. Her babbling, rambling insane chatter makes you wonder - What. The. Fuck.
And how? HOW on earth could NOBODY in the system have noticed how sick sick sick this woman was? And taken away her very very VERY abused daughter.

When I first heard about the film 'Precious' and exactly the circumstances of Precious' life, I thought, you have to be kidding me. I thought, aren't they overdoing this piece of fiction? Emotional, sexual and physical abuse? By both parents? Illiteracy? Not one, but TWO children as a result of her father's abuse, by the mere age of 16? Being kicked out of school? Discovering an HIV positive status?
I mean, the only thing they've left out of this story of utter horror is perhaps Precious getting in an accident that paralyses her. And perhaps being brutally murdered as well.
No, but, in all honesty, the story IS insane to someone lucky like myself, because it's so horrific. But the sad fact remains that it's not "out there" and sensational - there are girls like Precious out there. Right now. Every day. Past, present and future.

And how great is it that Daniel's film was dedicated "to all the precious girls out there". I've been curious enough to look up interviews on Youtube with Gabbourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique, and they are right...this film will hopefully save somebody's life.

5 out of 5 monkeys.