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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

His Pick 1940s: Rope

We watched Alfred Hitchcock this past weekend.
It's an interesting movie.  It doesn't take much, but this one definitely kept me nervous the entire time, but not too badly.
I won't ruin anything for you by telling you that this movie is about two guys who use a rope to strangle a mutual "friend" and stuff the body in a trunk until dark so they can get rid of it. That part happens in the first scene.  The motive is kind of unbelievable..they did it just to prove they could, that they are superior.
The rest of the movie takes place during a dinner party.  The excuse is that it's a going away party for one of the guys, but it's really another way to just gloat that they've done this thing and they aren't going to get caught.  The guests are a surprising mix of the victim's friends and family.

James Stewart is a former mentor of the two men on each side of him who are the murderers.

The trunk with the body inside. 

It's pretty stressful knowing that the body is right there in the room the entire time.  One of the guys is confident and smug.  The other is scared and nervous. 
It's not the best acting I've ever seen, or the most complicated plot.  But it definitely evokes emotion, it did from me anyway. There were some technologically advanced methods used in the filming which you can read about more on the IMDb page, one being that Hitchcock uses only ten separate takes for the entire movie, necessitating a lot of interesting methods with scenery, etc.

I had never heard of any of the actors except James Stewart.  I did enjoy his part pretty well, I think I'm discovering I like his movies.  I had never really seen any except It's a Wonderful Life, haha.

I would give this movie a 6 out of 10.  I mean, I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't extremely memorable or impressive to me. I was very interested to see how it ended, but not because of any particular interest in the characters, just because of the "are they going to get caught?!" factor. That part was pretty stressful.

We've got a few more movies left to go, I think we can do it!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Her pick 1940s: The Philadelphia Story

Big name stars and awards.  Interesting plot.
I finally picked a good one again, ha!
This is Katherine Hepburn and Carey Grant as a divorced couple, she's about to be married again, and he drops in with some papparazzi to cover the big wedding event (they are high society, rich, etc).
Jimmy Stewart is a writer who has stooped to tabloid writing to make a living.  His partner, the photographer (struggling painter/artist) comes along as well.
We end up with a love triangle situation.
Far left, fiance, middle, ex-husband, right, wild card thrown in.

We ended up having to split this movie up over several nights due to the crazy sleep schedule around here lately, and I would love to sit and watch it straight through.

There is some great writing, one-liners, it's just very witty and quick at it too.

The guys are never really mean toward each other, really just united against the groom to be.

Here's the writer and photographer considering the assignment.

I really enjoyed this movie.  It might be my favorite.  The humor was more enjoyable to me than The Apartment.  As cliche as the characters were in the upper class vs. working class struggle, I still thought they had depth.  The character development wasn't as deep as in The Apartment.  But the interaction between all these characters was more entertaining. I like when an old movie can be smart funny and not just slapstick funny or cheesy.

So, I guess because of liking the actors and interaction and wit better, this one wins as my favorite.
I give it an 9 out of 10.  Don't know what I'm saving 10 for but I guess I will know it when I see it.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to watch it again one day.

12 movies down, 8 more to go!

Monday, August 4, 2014

His pick 1950s: Seven Samurai

If you want to live forever and never die, start watching this movie.
Seriously though.
Ever sang that "song that never ends" haha.  Okay, okay, I'm done.

But not with this movie yet.
Okay for real, we started watching this the day after we watched The Iron Giant.
It took us almost a week to finish.  Mostly, because Corey has been so tired with switching work shifts. But, also because this movie is very long.

It's in black and white.

And it's in Japanese.  Subtitled in English.

The story is that these Japanese farmers were attacked by bandits who promised to come back and steal and plunder and all that stuff when their harvest comes in.  So, they decide to try to find samurai to come and help them defend themselves.  But they can only pay them with food.

The guy on the left is the leader and helps find six more samurai to help them. Obviously, since they are only being paid with food, these samurai have good intentions and motives and have good overall character.

The entire first half (first disk) of the movie is them deciding to, and finding, the samurai. Approximately 100 minutes at least.  And a little bit of the samurai starting to figure out how to best fortify and defend the village (I think, maybe that party was on the second).  I really could've done with about 90% less of this entire half of the film, because to be honest, the second part wasn't bad.  The second part involved more preparations, some development of the small love story, and the actual battle against the bandits.
The battle is pretty long, but not constant.  It's interesting and a good ending to the movie.

Apparently this guy did a lot of new stuff with camera work and shooting outdoors, battle scenes, etc.  I find it really difficult to watch black and white movies with outdoor scenes, it's just so difficult to distinguish the scenery and all.
The development of a few of the characters was done pretty interestingly.  But then others I kept getting mixed up because, and I hate that this sounds bad, but the names were so confusing to me!

It is really difficult to rate this movie. I hate to say it, but the subject matter just wasn't interesting to me.  It wasn't visually appealing to me because of the outside black and white stuff, and I don't like having to watch a movie and read it at the same time.  I'm just not sophisticated enough and I won't pretend to be, haha.
I give it a 5 out of 10. I didn't strongly dislike it as far as content, etc.  And I didn't love it either.  It's not a movie I would've kept watching had it not been on the list.  To me, the length wasn't justifiable with my level of interest in the story.  And that's just my opinion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Her pick 1990s: The Iron Giant

I made a change to my 1990s pick after my random movie picking had yielded such bad results, haha.
I was reading through choices and Corey jumped on this one saying it was awesome.  And since there were no animated movies on the list I figured it would be a fun change.
The Iron Giant features the voices of Jennifer Aniston and Harry Connick, Jr.
It's about boy becoming friends with this enormous "giant" robot/alien that crashed from the sky.
The setting is the 1950s, so the mood is one of paranoia and distrust of anything and everything foreign. The government is very interested, and the story progresses from there.

This is Jennifer Aniston's character, "Mom" who is single and works as a waitress, so her son "Hogarth" is on his own a lot.  Never heard of that name, but it didn't even get red squiggly lines under it so it must be a thing.

Harry Connick, Jr. voices the beatnik type junkyard artist.  He's a good guy.
The bad guy is the government agent, who provides a lot of humor.

Vin Diesel is the voice of the Iron Giant. Don't worry, you won't even notice. ha ha. If you watch it you'll see what I mean.

The newspaper headline says a lot.
So, I give this movie an 8/10.
It's a very good movie. The animation style isn't the new computer generated style of the Toy Story types, but it still looks really neat because it was done that way purposely and serves the setting well.  The storyline is interesting, and the boy, Hogarth, is just what you would imagine a 50s kid would be.  It is rated PG and there are a couple of clear instances of cursing.  

Definitely watch this movie if you haven't seen it.  It is not on instant streaming anywhere that we could find, we requested it from Netflix on dvd.

The next choice is Corey's pick from the 1950s.  He's wanted me to watch it for years, and it's taking more than one sitting to get through.  Think Gone with the Wind epic length here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Her Pick 1920s: The Jazz Singer

Well, my losing streak continues.
The Jazz Singer is known as the first "talkie" movie.  Starring Al Jolson. 
First off, there isn't very much "talking" at all.  The only sound is used for the singing of the songs throughout, and for maybe a phrase or two surrounding the songs.
The rest is like a typical silent movie.
The transitions between the "talkie" and silent portions of the film are pretty awkward. And abrupt at times.
The story is this boy is the son of a Jewish cantor and he doesn't want to follow in his footsteps, but instead wants to be a jazz singer.  The term jazz singer definitely not being what I thought it would mean, haha.  
The mother is supportive and loves her son.  The dad kicks him out.
He grows up and becomes, yes, a jazz singer.  In the end he has to choose between singing in the temple for Atonement while his dad is on his death bed, or performing in his Broadway debut.

I'm making it sound profoundly more interesting than it is.
It's not good.
The film is apparently not talked of too much now because of the use of blackface in his big show.
That had nothing to do with my opinion at all.  The acting wasn't good.  The singing wasn't great. The story was fine, but typical and predictable.
We suffered through and finished the movie.  
Done, and done.
I would give this a 2 out of 10.  Because none of it was good.  I guess I give it a 2 because it wasn't crude or anything like that.  It just wasn't good.  At all.  My least favorite of the movies so far.
It might have gotten a 3 if not for Al Jolson.  yikes.
I hope I never see another movie with him in it, he is just plain creepy!
We took a break from movies over the weekend because I had a lot of other projects going on, but the next on the list is a pick of mine, a recent change to the list from the 1990s.
It's animated, and I haven't seen it.  Intriguing?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

His Pick 1920s: Sherlock, Jr

We were able to knock out two of our movies back to back since we could watch this one with the kids this morning, and it was only a little under an hour long.

This was a really fun movie to watch! I am really becoming fascinated with silent movies.  I love that you get to watch more, that everything is told without words except for sporadically placed words on the screen.  And that in and of itself gives a different timing to the presentation.  Your laughs often come with the action, with the words, or with both, but not at the same time.  I think it adds something to the enjoyment, but I can't really say why.  It just does.
Maybe it is just the novelty of it.  If I sat and watched silent movie after silent movie it might get old.
Buster Keaton plays a movie projectionist whose rival accuses him of stealing his fiancee's father's pocket watch.
There are some REALLY impressive scenes in this movie.  Especially considering that there were no computers and not nearly as many special effects tricks that could be done.
He did all his own stunts.  Everything was actually done.  Katie and Noah loved watching it too with knowing none of it was computer magic.

He's a short guy! ha!

He takes on the role of a detective, and lives the life of a detective in his fantasy which takes a large portion of the movie.
This is on Netflix instant play, and I highly recommend sitting down for a bit and giving it a try.

I really enjoyed the humor, even though it was quite a bit of slapstick, which I normally do not enjoy at all.  Corey said that he didn't understand why I didn't like The Three Stooges if I like this.
Very easy to explain: this was a *silent* movie. I only had to listen to music (and good entertaining music, it changed more than I expected) and not the grating sound of those very annoying stooge voices and noises.

I give this a 9/10.  I was going to say 8, but the story really was a good one and for a comedy it definitely did a great job of being one, even without spoken jokes.