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.

His Pick 1980s: Ferris Beuller's Day Off

First off, thank you Corey for switching Die Hard to this light-hearted silly flick.
I am being sincere.
I give this movie a 6 out of 10.  Didn't hate it.  Didn't love it. Laughed a few times.
It would've gotten a completely average rating if not for the nostalgia of seeing all the 80s references.  
This guy always makes me laugh.

The premise is totally dumb.  A guy skips school.  It takes a good 1/3 of the movie to even pull off that part.  They take a friend's dad's car to the city for the day.
It has goofy almost run ins with parents. And very flawed "Home Alone" esque gags for trying to fool the folks at home (manequin under the covers, answering machines rigged,  etc)
Not much happens, but a few things are kind of funny, mostly involving the administrator who is trying to finally catch Ferris Beuller skipping school.

This part is funny, but mostly because it's Charlie Sheen playing a spazzed out druggie.  

So, yeah.  Now I can say I've seen this movie.  It wasn't awful, but not going on any of my favorites lists.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Her Pick 1960s: The Apartment

The only thing I knew about this movie was that it was about a guy who let people use his apartment for *secret* meetings and that I had played the "Theme from The Apartment" in piano lessons.
When I think of Jack Lemmon I think of Grumpy Old Men, haha.
And I really don't have any knowledge of Shirley MacLaine aside from her recent stint on Downton Abbey.

This turned out to be my favorite movie so far.
Jack Lemmon reminds me a lot of Jim Carrey.  I know it should probably be the other way around, but I knew of Jim Carrey first.  I think it's his mannerisms.  Jim Carrey is a more exaggerated version, of course.

C. C. Baxter, (Lemmon), is a man trying to move up in his job at an insurance company.  He gets kind of pushed into and bribed into letting these executives use his apartment for meetups with their mistresses.  A pretty risque storyline for a 60s movie.  I mean, I obviously haven't seen tons of movies from this era, but I imagine it must have not been on the must see for a lot of decent people, ha ha!
In spite of the plot, it really isn't a tastelessly done movie.  It's funny how they are able to get their points across and you know exactly what's going on, without a bunch of raunchy and crude humor.

Fred MacMurray (of My Three Sons) plays the "big" boss man, who also finally gets to Baxter about the use of his apartment.
 I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but it's a good story and has a much more disturbing story arc than what you might expect from this subject matter.

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon are definitely the best actors in the movie.  I really did not enjoy Fred MacMurray in the least.  I really don't think he did a very good job acting at all.
His character isn't likeable, but he doesn't even do a good job at that.
Jack Lemmon's humor is well done.  He plays the goofy and awkward bachelor, yet also pulls off the serious just as well.
Shirley MacLaine is believable in her character. Her serious scenes are well done in my opinion.

This movie is funny, sad, a little tragic, and happy.
It's a pretty good movie when you take a "get a snack" break about a half hour before the end and have really no idea how it will all tie up.  Not in bad way, but because there are many plausible endings and it isn't a predictable and boring ending.
The end is satisfying, but not in a happily ever after kind of way.

I really liked it.  I give it a 9 out of 10.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

His Pick 2010s: The Artist

Well, we continue the trend of Corey's picks being better than my picks. Although, to be fair, Corey was having a hard time finding a recent movie (2010s) that he wanted to put on the list and I suggested this one. :)

This movie won a ton of awards and features only 1-2 really well known American actors. The leads are foreign actors.  It's a silent movie about silent movies.
Shot to look exactly like a film from the era that it is about, it is truly fascinating to watch.  
When you watch old movies, you think, wow, how film quality, sound, and just the general crispness of movies has improved.  This is like a digitally remastered version of an old silent film.  The sound is great and the picture looks good.
It is done as accurately as possible with no modern special effects or camera work, but the quality is just better.
I really enjoyed it.  It makes me wish they would do more like it.

This is the heroine.  She's an up and coming "fresh" face to the movie industry.  She gets cast as an extra after a random public encounter with the biggest star of the time. Her name is "Peppy Miller" haha, it's that perfect?

This is George Valentin, the biggest and richest star in town.  John Goodman plays the producer for his silent films.
When "sound" enters the picture we watch as the old and the new faces deal with the changes.
It's a great story, though not very complicated.  There aren't any surprises or twists.  It's just a basic plot.  If it wasn't for the silent aspect and some of the ways they break through that with some creative ideas, it probably really wouldn't be that fascinating of a story to be honest.

But, the movie kept me interested the entire way and it has a great ending.  A little bit of a surprise comes at the end, but not anything too crazy.
I highly recommend this movie, not many Oscar favorites are as easy on the eyes and ears and heart as this one.
There are a couple of quick curses (you don't hear them of course! haha!), and due to staying true to the era any distress or violence isn't very graphic or actually distressing.
I give this movie a 9 out of 10.  The best way I can sum it up is to say it's just a really fun film.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Her Pick 1980s: A Room With a View


I love British period costume dramas.

This one though.  Just not good.
I have watched MANY many many movies based on this genre of novels.  This movie is based on the book by E.M. Forster.  It has a crazy cast....Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter (her first film), and Daniel Day Lewis.  All of those names are associated with really famous and popular films.  If this had not been something chosen for this movie challenge, we probably would have just turned it off.  That's how very uninteresting it was.  The only way it was bearable was because it was interesting to see some of those famous actors and actresses in their early years.  

It's about a girl and her older cousin chaperone in Italy.  They have requested "A Room with a View" and it turns out they didn't get one.  Two other travelers offer to switch rooms, which is apparently very brazen of them, the cousin in insulted, but they end up swapping to get the nicer rooms. (After the vicar says there's nothing wrong with accepting the offer ha).

The young girl falls in love with the younger man, they tour around the countryside with an author (Judi Dench), scandalous encounter, blah blah really; I can't remember what all happens.  

When she goes home later we find her engaged to this guy, a very snobby and fancy man.
He's kind of funny to watch.
The young man and his father (the room swappers) end up moving to the same town and he's friends with her brother.  There's an OUT OF THE BLUE and unexpected scene of the boys playing around and "bathing" in the pond, the ladies run up on them and it's all scandalous.
This film is based on a 1908 novel and is unrated, I had no idea about this scene, but it can be pretty shocking.  It kind of goes on for a while too. 

All and all, nothing exciting ever happens, Corey dozed off snoring, and I have seen many movies do this idea (the prohibitive nature of society and norms or whatever during this time period) and do it much better.
I read some of the reviews on IMDb and people seem to think that if you don't love this movie then you must be shallow, uneducated about history, and have no appreciation for character study.
I strongly disagree.  I am not shallow, I do understand the historical time period, and I love the development of characters.  This did not do any of these things justice.
The main heroine falls in love with a guy over a chance dinner. Their story is not believable. They've barely had a conversation before she is in turmoil and trying to avoid him, but it's not clear to me why she felt she needed to deny or avoid him.  Just for the sake of making a movie?
The getting engaged to the ridiculous suitor is unbelievable as well.  There is no explanation as to how they met or her feelings about it or why she was even interested or needing to engaged at that point.  There's a lot said contrasting her passion in playing the piano with her boring life.  That idea could've been developed more and made for some actual character development.  As it is, I'm not sure how 2 hrs was filled with so little actually happening.
I give it a 3 out of 10.  
The 3 stars are for having people who were later really famous, haha. They were fun to watch, just for fun.  But I could have turned it off after seeing them a few times.

Seems as though I am 0/2 on movie picks.  We are four movies into our challenge.  We have 16 movies left, and 26 days to finish by the start of school in August.  We are going to stop pulling them from a cup and start planning them out based on the length of the movie, streaming vs dvd etc so we can make our goal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

His Pick 1990s: The Shawshank Redemption

We had almost a month hiatus from our movie challenge due to school conflicts.  We are now in fast mode, not too many weeks and MANY movies left on the list.  I will be posting a lot more often now.

This is probably the first real reach out of my comfort zone with movies that Corey has picked.
It's about a guy who goes to prison for the murder of his wife and her golf pro "friend."
He gets sent to Shawshank for two life sentences.
He is a smart banker, no previous record, honest, straight up guy.
This movie is about his development through the quickly passing years of his sentence in prison with some really rough prisoners. 
One of my favorite lines is when Tim Robbins claims innocence, Morgan Freeman says, "of course, we are all innocent here" or something to that idea.

He becomes friends with Morgan Freeman's character, a guy who "knows how to get things."
Anytime they interact in the movie is really good.  Tim Robbins just doesn't fit in.  But he finds his place as someone who is educated and ends up playing a vital part in helping the warden with some schemes.

This is the warden and he is evil.
There are many evil characters.  The head guard guy is horrible. There is a group of guys in the prison called the "ladies" who contribute some extremely rough, crass, gut-wrenchingly horrible situations to the movie. (for anyone wondering, nothing visually graphic, just dialogue and implied, plus they are just gross!)  There is a TON of prison language in this movie.
To be honest, if you took out the "ladies" storyline, I would give this movie a much higher rating. Probably a high 7/8.
As it is, I have to give it......a high 4 out of 10.  
It upset me and I could hardly enjoy what was actually a decent storyline because of how awful that part was. In addition to the abusive bad language towards the prisoners. 
I wouldn't watch it again.
For me, the memorable parts were overshadowed by the bad parts.
I will try to be fair to the movie. For a story set in a harsh prison in that time period, I am sure the language and situations and the abuse were very realistic.  I am sure there are ways you could do a movie focusing on certain parts and leave out some of the situations, but portraying an accurate depiction of a prison the language was not excessive or gratuitous. It 100% fit the setting and characters.
In defense of my lack of enjoyment of the movie, I just do not find that setting to be enjoyable enough in the good part of the story to be able to appreciate the inclusion of all that "stuff."
I watched and enjoyed a tv show set in a prison. Prison Break had a fascinating puzzling storyline that unraveled.  The storyline in that outweighed the implied prison situations and the rough stuff was a much smaller part of the overall story.  Mostly because it was on television, haha, but I feel it did a good job of showing how bad prison could be without SO much of it being spelled out.
Maybe it's because I made Corey tell me what happened because I was scared of a movie based on a Stephen King book, ha ha.  Maybe if the ending had been more of a surprise, it would have increased the appreciation of his journey.  That really could have been a big part of it. To me, the ending was a tad bit anticlimactic. Plenty of people love this movie.  I am not known as someone who tolerates intensity in movies very well.  So there ya go.
It's similar to the idea of "The Count of Monte Cristo" and has a good "redeeming" ending for the good guys.  But the bad guys were just too bad for me. I think also the fact that this was a believable story and setting, and knowing these kinds of things really happen makes it worse for me.  I can much more easily tolerate crazy unbelievable things like dinosaurs, transformers, and space movies as far as things outside my comfort zone go. ha ha.
So, sorry, Corey. I didn't love it. But I did watch it. :)
He has since changed two choices on his original list, which I hate.  The thing is, you never know what's going to bother me, I'm kind of weird about movies, which is why this is such an interesting summer experiment for us.
Tonight we watch my next choice.