Sunday, September 1, 2013

August 2013 Recap

You know the drill...

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die - As seen in August 2013
1) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz) 4/10
2) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 - John Huston) 7/10 - Still trying to wrap my head around the idea of liking a Bogart picture. This was quality stuff!
3) Orpheus (1950 - Jean Cocteau) 5.5/10 - Again, I think this one is due a rewatch someday, but for now call it just better than average.
4) Rashomon (1950 - Akira Kurosawa) 6/10 - Another one that I'm sure gets better with each viewing. Unfortunately, this is only the second time I'd seen it and thus, not as impressed as others.
5) Open Your Eyes (1997 - Alejandro Amenabar) 7.5/10
6) The Sweet Hereafter (1997 - Atom Egoyan) 6.5/10 - Holm was awesome, the story was so-so, the rest was blah.
7) Happy Together (1997 - Wong Kar-Wai) 10/10 - Still, easily the best thing I've seen this season.
8) The Butcher Boy (1997 - Neil Jordan) 5/10 - Just not special enough to be included among other, more "must see" films.
9) Princess Mononoke (1997 - Hayao Miyazaki) 3.5/10
10) Winchester '73 (1950 - Anthony Mann) 7.5/10 - Great stuff and I really can't wait to see the other Mann/Stewart westerns.
11) Rio Grande (1950 - John Ford) 1/10 
12) All About Eve (1950 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz) 7/10 - I still feel like there was just SOMETHING lacking here, but I can't put my finger on it. Sill very good.
13) Los Olvidados (1950 - Luis Bunuel) 4/10 - Later Bunuel is your friend, early Bunuel is my opinion.
14) Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951 - Albert Lewin) 5/10 - Worth a look , I suppose, if only for the stunning Gardner and the spectacular Mason.
15) Independence Day (1996 - Roland Emmerich) 6/10 - As a commenter put it, it is great at doing what it was intended to do. However, a lot of it is drivel.
16) The English Patient (1996 - Anthony Minghella) 6/10 - A different kind of '6' than "Independence Day". Good, but overrated and not worthy of the awards bestowed upon it.

NON-1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die - As seen in August 2013
1) Vanilla Sky (2001 - Cameron Crowe) 7/10 - So one day after watching and reviewing "Open Your Eyes", I couldn't resist going to my DVD shelf and  plucking off "Vanilla Sky" and doing a little comparison work. Honestly and without trying to fit in with the cool kids, I DID like "Open Your Eyes" better, but not by much. The big thing that took away from the remake was the presence of Tom Cruise, who just couldn't resist playing the part "cooler" and cuter, or so he thought. In reality, his performance was just more overblown and he just didn't have the control to play it more subtle, which would have benefited the picture. In fact, the entire cast (save for Kurt Russell, who I thought was fine) was worse than the original. Yes, even Penelope Cruz had this "I don't feel like doing the same movie twice, so I'm going to phone this one in" aura about her. Cameron Diaz COULD HAVE been good (because, honestly, I don't mind her as much as others) but she overblew her performance too and laid it on way too thick. Whereas the actress who played Nuria in OYE played it more unhinged and psychotic, Diaz couldn't resist being her cute, blonde, sexy self and it really detracted from the overall performance. The music was a bit much too and there were music cues where there really didn't need to be music, pop music especially. In fact, the only music I did enjoy was the light score during the dream scene, early on with David and Sofia in the park. I also enjoyed the R.E.M. song ("Sweetness Follows") during the scene where David is running through the street. The other thing that I just didn't get were some of the things they added in, seemingly for no reason at all. For instance, the scene in the very beginning where David and Brian are in the car and are nearly run over by a truck. What was the point of that addition? it did nothing to advance the story and was completely and 100% irrelevant. I also hated the all the references to David's partners, which were barely mentioned in OYE and for good reason. The whole thing just reeked of Cameron Crowe trying desperately to make this story his own, while also making sure he somehow included a little bit of everything that was included in the original. What I did like, however, was the most important part and that was the ending. I think Crowe did a better job laying out the explanation to his audience and it wasn't nearly as confusing as the ending to OYE, which just isn't explained near as well.

One thing did occur to me while watching this though. it seems to me that foreign filmmaker's respect their audience a whole lot more than Hollywood directors. Foreign directors seem to expect more from their audience and don't feel the need to hand feed them every little explanation and detail, whereas Hollywood directors, perhaps, think their audience is slower and need to be coddled and explained everything intricately. It's not that VS was bad, it's just really easy to see, especially after watching them both within a 24 hour period, which is the superior version and it's no surprise that it's the original. If you're feeling torn between these two movies and unable to decide which one you like better, watch OYE and the VS within a short period of time and I think it will be quite clear. Eduardo Noriega is far better than Tom Cruise, he displays control over his character, knows when to be funny, when (and how) to be frightened & confused, when to be softer, when to be louder and just a real pro, all around. I think you'll even agree that Cruz is better in OYE. Oh and the photography in OYE is world's better.

ME vs. TV

Figured I'd start using the recap to talk about what I'm watching on the small screen. It is September, which means new television shows are starting soon. My wife and I have a crop picked out that we want to check out (mostly network sitcoms), but that'll be next month. As for now, the wife and I have been working our way through seasons of "Two and a Half Men". We're casual fans of the show, catching it on syndication here and there, but found Season One for $10 at Wal-Mart last month and decided to watch it in order. The first season was HILARIOUS and we've since bought the subsequent eight DVD seasons. Currently on Season Three, with Two being way better than One, as everyone started to settle in and adapt to their characters. 

I've also been checking out "Arrested Development" on Netflix. I think it's so clever and so funny! The wife and I took a crop of DVDs to sell them earlier this week and I found all three (released) seasons for $10 each, so I just decided to take the plunge and buy them. I'm only ten episodes in, but am so confident that the season will end up winning me over ten fold, that buying them seemed like a smart investment. Also, while I haven't seen one episode, my wife flew through Season One of "Orange Is the New Black" and has been raving about it ever since, so there's that. 

1) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (10)
2) Open Your Eyes (20)
3) Happy Together (20)
4) Winchester '73 (10)

**NOTE** "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" has fallen off the TOP 20 Tracker. Upon further thought, I'd just as soon find nine other, more worthy Ten Worth Mentioning contenders and leave the Star Wars trilogy out in the cold. Remember, everything is tentative and subject to my whims. 


That takes care of another month. Gonna' try to hit it really hard in September, movie wise. It would be REALLY nice to be at the halfway mark of the season by month's end, which means watching thirty movies this month. I'll give it my best shot!

September 1, 2013  10:05pm


  1. I also think The English Patient is overrated. That movie was unbearably boring.

  2. Always good to know I'm not alone in my opinions. Thanks for stopping by!


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