Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February 2014 Recap

Let's do it...

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die - As seen in February 2014
1) The Ascent (1976 - Larisa Shepitko) 3/10 - It seems like it's been two months since I've watched this, not one. I guess that means it's forgettable? Yeah, that sounds about right.
2) My Own Private Idaho (1991 - Gus Van Sant) 6/10 - I've officially seen this one enough times to officially announce I don't care for it. It's okay, but I really don't understand the hype..at all.
3) A Chinese Ghost Story (1987 - Siu-Tung Ching) 4/10 - Surprisingly not awful. But still, not good either.
4) The Barefoot Contessa (1954 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz) 4/10 - See this for Gardner, but mute it and just gaze at her beauty. Seriously, this wasn't good at all and paired with "Guys and Dolls", I think I can add Mankiewicz to my "director's to approach with caution" list.
5) Harold and Maude (1971 - Hal Ashby) 7/10 - Solid '7' and deserves a rewatch someday. Good stuff that fell just shy of making a "Ten Worth Mentioning" spot in this recent TOP 20 list.
6) Europa Europa (1990 - Agnieszka Holland) 4/10 - I gave this a '6' last month. Man, I must've been feeling extra generous. Just not THAT good and quite forgettable really.
7) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988 - Pedro Almodovar) 8/10 - #18 on the most recent TOP 20 list. Need I say more?
8) Red Sorghum (1987 - Zhang Yimou) 2.5/10 - Zhang Yimou gave me one of the best films I saw last season ("Raise the Red Lantern") and one of the worst (this).
9) Flaming Creatures (1963 - Jack Smith) 1/10 - Blech.
10) Housekeeping (1987 - Bill Forsyth) 6.5/10 - Just a tough nut to crack, that's all there is to it. Probably deserves a rewatch someday.
11) Mad Max (1979 - George Miller) 6.5/10 - Probably went just a tad overboard on this one, but it's still pretty kick ass and worth a look if you haven't seen it.
12) The French Connection (1971 - William Friedkin) 10/10 - Who am I freakin' kidding? This is a '10' through and through and any nitpicking I did in that review wasn't enough to lower it at all. LOVED this movie!
13) The Conversation (1974 - Francis Ford Coppola) 10/10 - See "The French Connection". This and "The French Conenction" are currently fighting over the top spot of the next TOP 20 and it's gonna' be hard to beat them out.
14) The Cool World (1963 - Shirley Clarke) 3/10
15) Cairo Station (1958 - Youssef Chahine) 4.5/10 - I think I was a little too hard on this one and perhaps, I wasn't all the way in the mood for a movie the night I watched this. A rewatch someday would be fair.
16) Woodstock (1970 - Michael Wadleigh) 6/10 - The watching of this one prompted me to take a look at the "1001 Albums..." list, so there's that. Like Ray said though, I'd rather just fire up the albums than be forced to sit through three hours of this. It was fun, but not particularly quality filmmaking.
17) The Night of the Hunter (1955 - Charles Laughton) 9/10 - Another one that's currently sitting atop the current season, alongside "The French Connection", "The Conversation" and "Fat City". All great films and good to get a favorite from the 50s in there.
18) A Question of Silence (1982 - Marleen Gorris) 6/10 - Another tough one to get a good read on. Just an odd film all around, if you ask me and a hard one to really rate. Something to behold, for sure.
19) Ikiru (1952 - Akira Kurosawa) 5/10 - I think all of the gripes from my review are valid and so far, Kurosawa has been a disappointment.
20) Guys and Dolls (1955 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz) 5.5/10

An even 20 for the month and my current goal is to get this set of 100 finished off by my 30th birthday (July 12). I think I can do it!

NON-1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die - As seen in February 2014
1) All Is Lost (2013 - J.C. Chandor) 8/10Watched "All Is Lost" last night, via OnDemand. This is one that I think I have to weigh in on using two hands.

On one hand, anyone who can stand in front of a camera by themselves, do their thing and do it well deserves praise. Of course I'm talking about Robert Redford and the fact that he has not one single co-star to play off of and not one piece of dialogue in his repertoire. Thus Redford is forced to use facial expressions to convey emotions and let his actions act as his words. It's really a sight to behold. However, there are probably many of you who won't take to this kind of thing. I get that casual moviegoers aren't used to this sort of minimalist approach and it's going to take a patient audience to really appreciate what's at play here. I, on the other hand, love this sort of thing and minimalist stuff is right up my alley. I love the meticulousness of Redford's character, how we constantly have to be going "What's he doing now?" and "Why's he doing that?", because there are no words to spell everything out for us.

On the other hand, however, there is the matter of the ending. If you haven't seen it, I hope you noticed the "spoiler" alert, but if you have, I'm here to tell you that my interpretation is the "Hand of God" interpretation. He wasn't miraculously saved at the last minute by a well to do passerby, who just happened to know that he was down there. Now, I am a believer in God and proud of it, but I'm not keen on mixing religion and film...it's just never been my style. Therefore, I didn't care for the whole hand of God ending and would have much rather gone for the bleaker ending, with him just sinking down to the bottom, the crushing look of realization on his face when he sees the boat pass by overhead. But that's just me and I'm fully aware of filmmaker's desire to send the audience home with a little bit of happiness, especially after watching an hour and forty five minutes of Redford getting his ass kicked by the ocean. If I can continue to be nitpicky, I'd also say shaving off about 10 - 20 minutes would've done wonders, I think and helped the flow a little bit. The first storm scene went a little long and I think the quicker we get him in the raft the better.

All in all though, I loved this. I'd heard about it via Kevin Smtih and his Edumacation podcast and as soon as he said something about the film having little to no dialogue, I just knew it would be something that would appeal to me.


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Also watched a couple of short films last month. One being VINCENT (1982 - Tim Burton), a cute little tale from the early mind of Tim Burton, starring the voice of Vincent Price. Worth a look and it's on YouTube.


Also watched THE WRONG TROUSERS (1993 - Nick Park) which I'd probably give somewhere in the neighborhood of a '7/10'. Really great stuff from the mind of Nick Park and it makes me want to see everything he's ever done. This one includes a gun wielding, evil penguin and a toy train chase! Check this one out via YouTube as well. 


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That's really it for this month boys & girls. I was gonna' talk a little bit about the TV I've been watching, but it's late and I'm tired, so maybe next month we'll get into that. Thanks, as always, for reading. Reviews for "Earth Entranced", "Shaft" and "Little Big Man" are going to be coming your way, as well as the announcement of a director tribute week - all coming in the next week.

March 4, 2014  10:26pm

2 comments:

  1. Delighted you have 'discovered' Nic park/Aardman. The new release have been quite a big thing (usually at Christmas) for several years in the UK. Starting with 3 shorts with W&G .. plus a series of adverts for a gas supplier, and some very shorts (1 or 2 minutes) featuring animals talking in the voices of real people (creature comforts), they have grown to full length feature films.
    I think you got to them via the 'Shorts' list on iCM.. which gave me 'Vincent' which you also give an honourable mention too...I think I liked that one more than you did.. but I think I've been more of a fan of Vincent Price than you have..

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    1. I kinda halted work on that short films list, with the potential to pick it back up in the future. Too many irons in the fire at the moment.

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