Sunday, September 21, 2014

Her Pick 1930s: The Public Enemy

We ended the movie challenge with my pick from the 1930s.
James Cagney and Edward Woods play two "hoodlums" in Chicago.  It opens showing them as children and follows them as they grow up to lead lives of big crime.

Jean Harlow is the female "lead" pictured, but she's really not a huge part of the movie. She does bring out an interesting side of the main guy though, so I guess she's important.

This movie is pretty heavy on the realism and the ending was apparently done as sort of a "public service announcement" idea to show people what can happen with leading this lifestyle.
I think it was a good movie to end on.  It was a classic.  I had never seen James Cagney, so that was kind of neat also.
I give this movie a 6/10. It had a lot slow areas, and wasn't what you would call action packed at all.
It's mainly just a character/life study of these two guys, and mostly James Cagney's character.
There was some pretty decent acting by most of the characters.
It's surprisingly dark for a movie from so long ago.  I can't imagine what the reaction would have been from people who may not have been as desensitized to violence on a big screen.

So the movie challenge is complete! 20 movies over the course of the summer.
I really enjoyed doing this.  Purposely choosing movies from all these decades has really expanded my interest in a few genres.  I am interested to see more Buster Keaton, Carey Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and other "old" movies.
I appreciate Corey's willingness to compromise, we couldn't have finished without his cooperation in that because several of his picks were very long movies. haha.
We can say we've done it now, and now we can come up with our next challenge.

His Pick 1970s: Diamonds Are Forever

We got down to the last weekend before fall with two movies left to watch.
So, due to time constraints and me not handling extra stress very well, Corey was kind of enough to change his pick for the 70s from The Godfather to Diamonds Are Forever.

It had villians, complete with tricks

and creepy factor.

And plenty of "what's going on?" "how will he get out of this" moments.

This was the first time I had seen a Sean Connery bond film.  It was actually the last one he did.
I may have caught a few minutes here or there of one years ago on TBS or something.
I really enjoyed it.  It was neat to compare it to more recent spy movies.  The acting was pretty over the top for some scenes, especially the fight scenes. But it was a good movie.
I give this a 6/10.  It was a good movie, but not really great in any aspects. One set of the bad guys was never really explained, I could never figure out how they fit with the main bad guy. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Her Pick 2010s: The Way Way Back

This was my pick for 2010s. It actually came out last year. We have become fans of these random independent comedies. Some are more bizarre and some less decent than others. This one was a definite hit. The title refers to the "way way back" section of a station wagon where the main character is sitting when the movie begins and ends.

It's about a 14 year old boy who is going to spend the summer with his divorced mom and her boyfriend and boyfriends daughter. 
The boyfriend is mean to the boy, Duncan, and he sticks out badly in this summer beach town. 

It's not a new idea for a plot, the awkward teen finding his way over the course of a summer. But the actors in this particular version do a really great job of being who they are in this story. The humor is very good and several of the characters reminded me of real people I have known. 
It's not an edge of your seat movie and it doesn't have many surprises. But it's just a well told story and character study. 
I give this one an 8/10. Less than my 9s due to it just not being very deep or new. But a very good movie and most definitely worth seeing. 
We have two more movies left. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Her Pick 1970s: The Sting

Another good movie added from my list!

Did you know the piano song "The Entertainer" is used as a main theme in this movie? It was written long before it was made, and from a slightly earlier era, but it still fits the fun mood of this movie. Even though the subject matter is pretty serious at times with the mob and various killings, it still has a lighthearted vibe.
For example, the different phases of the  movie have these Norman Rockwell-ish style introductory screens shown in between, telling sort of what part it about to happen in the plot development.
These drawings along with the rag time music almost give it a western style feel, though it is definitely not a western.

It is set in the height of the mob, con-man, double cross "scene" of Chicago.

I haven't really seen a lot of movies in general, but to me, this is very much an "Oceans 11" type of movie, which is why I picked it.  I enjoy a movie with an elaborate scheme to fool the badder guys (ha, they are all bad, but some are baddER). 
Paul Newman and Robert Redford play a couple of con-artists who set up a big plan to get back at a mob boss. 

It's fascinating and interesting and funny, and the plot is well played out. There aren't really any slow parts. It stayed interesting the entire time.
The characters aren't extremely deep or philosophical.  The movie is one that's been done before it and many times since.  But this one is done quite well, it looked great especially for being from the fuzzy/blurry 70s, and the comedy was well-timed and fitting for the individuals and roles.
I give this movie a 9/10 also because I just really really enjoyed it. And it's the kind of "this kind" of movie I like.

We ended up watching two movies on Labor Day (Modern Times and this one), so we are now only 3 movies away from completing the movie challenge!
We've got Corey's 70s pick (which I am trying to be optimistic about ha!) and my 30s and 2010s pick.

His Pick 1930s: Modern Times

This was my first Charlie Chaplin movie.
I'll be honest, I completely expected to hate it.  Don't know why, but I have always found anything with photos or clips or anything of Charlie Chaplin to be really annoying, haha.
I actually really enjoyed it.

This is the female star, a young girl with two young sisters who have fallen on hard times, as many have in this time period.

Charlie Chaplin plays a man who just can't get a break, but not for lack of trying.

He starts out as a factory worker who has a mental breakdown.
There are strikes, and homelessness (vagrancy abounds), and he's just trying to get back on his feet, and also tries to help his female friend he meets along the way.

The whole movie has a lot of commentary on many issues, but it's not heavy.  It has a lot of funny parts, which again, I thought would be annoying from what I just assumed would be the slapstick era. The humorous parts have some slapstick elements, but also have a more sophisticated tone when commenting on the social issues involved in the story.
It does kind of ramble a little in the unfolding of the plot.  And one tidbit in particular that wasn't addressed or resolved, which bugged me a little.
I really forgot I was watching a mostly silent film.  It wasn't completely silent, but it went back and forth between the styles in a much more pleasing manner than The Jazz Singer.
It didn't have a storybook ending, but the ending was still good.
I give this movie a 9/10.  I liked it completely as much as the other films we've watched that I rated a 9.  The commentary of plot points and how well they really showed the down on his luck can't get a break everyday man, and just the overall enjoyment of watching it made it very good to me. The main heroine was a little overly dramatic in a lot of her acting, but all in all I was completely drawn in to how they interacted together and bonded over the common needs they both had at the time.

Her pick 1950s: A Streetcar Named Desire

Okay, so somehow, I had never read this play in school.
I guess it just didn't make the cut.

The movie version stars (as you can see) Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.
When it starts, Vivien Leigh's character is arriving on a "streetcar named desire" in New Orleans, to visit her sister for an extended visit.  Apparently she's lost the family plantation during hard times, and her sister is her only family left.  Her sister has married "beneath" them, to a "common" man.

The sister's husband, Brando, is a very short-tempered blue collar worker.
He has a lot of explosions and it is hinted and shown a little that he is abusive, yet the sister always takes him back and stays with him.

Through the story, you find out a good many secrets and scandals, the story has some twists that are apparently more easily to see in the play version.
I enjoyed the movie.  I felt like it was kind of constantly hitting a climax, meaning I didn't want to leave because I was afraid I was missing the most important part the entire time, haha.
I give this movie a 7/10. The plot, though with some twists, isn't that surprising.  The acting by Leigh, to me, was good, but still pretty fake.  It reminded me a lot of her flighty and flirtatious character from Gone With the Wind which is the only thing I know her from.  So I couldn't tell if that's the character she always plays or if it truly fit each of these because I only have the two roles to compare. Yes, these two at the core are very different, but they are also very similar in some of the more intense parts of the movie.
It's worth seeing, and good, but I think there are aspects which could definitely be better.

Monday, August 18, 2014

His Pick 1960s: Mary Poppins

Okay, so technically, Corey's first pick for a movie from the 60's was Lawrence of Arabia.  But, after it taking us a week to watch a slightly (if you can imagine) shorter Seven Samurai, he had decided he would change it to something else.  So when the opportunity came for us to go see this classic at the Fox Theater, we thought it would be a fun way to have a date and knock another movie off the list.  It is truly one of both of our favorite movies.  And it's the first one all summer that I have actually seen before.

Another thing worth  noting is that this was a "singalong."  The words to all the songs were up on the screen and EVERYONE in the audience was encouraged to sing along, clap along, snap along, sway along, and whatever else along with the movie.
(the mouse icon is just the only photo I could find online of a singalong example, that's not what it looked like in the theater).  That shot above is from one of my favorite scenes actually, the laughing on the ceiling.  I don't know why but it just makes me laugh too.

This is another favorite, the entire animated sequence.  Very well done for the time it was made, it holds up!

Jane and Michael... for lack of a nicer way to say it, they are well cast for their roles, haha.

I mean, is there anything more fun than Mary Poppins and Bert "stepping in time" here? My other favorite scene.

I feel like I don't really need to tell anything else about this, surely everyone has seen it.
It's a good movie, a good story, amazing and catchy songs, and a good ending.
A classic kids movie for a reason, it's just good.  There is no comparing it to other kids movies of the same era, no wonder it rose above and became so popular.
I give this movie a 9/10 because of the quick turn around of the dad.  The musical does such a better job of digging into that storyline from the book, and the change made is more believable than the one little talk from Bert and the bank interaction changing his entire personality.
Deservedly part of our summer movie challenge, this was a great life experience to see on a big screen in a historic theater. Even if all the singalongers weren't exactly talented vocalists, haha.