Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Waterfront

Today I watched Elia Kazan's 1954 film On the Waterfront. It sounded really familiar, but I honestly never heard anything about it until watching it tonight. I think it was actually really nice to go into it blind, after reading Ebert's essay on it. My opinion of it wasn't colored by all of the history and facts surrounding the film. Not that it's unavoidable, it's just that it was nice to watch it without an analysis already running through my head.

The movie is about Terry Malloy and his experiences with the corrupt dock workers union. The boss, Johnny Friendly, is involved in murders but no one will testify against him, because they are afraid of the consequences of doing so. Terry feels the pull of his conscious, knowing that it is right to testify against the wrong things that Friendly has done, especially after having been greatly screwed over by Friendly before.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Is there anyone who hates Alfred Hitchcock? I've never heard of such a thing. I haven't seen all of his films, even though so many of them are always on Netflix Instant. I guess I just forget, somehow. I always seem to have the best times watching his movies, and I am always surprised by how engrossed in them I become. I have the best memory of going to see Vertigo not too long ago at Northwestern with some dear friends of mine. I did a bit of grumbling at first and wasn't sure if it would be worth it, but seeing the old film, on actual film, with great people, was a really cool experience. And afterward, all three of us in Clark's diner, huddled over coffee, discussing and pondering. I wish more movie going experiences were that good, which is why I always think about it so fondly. So, Hitchcock conjures warm and fuzzy memories for me, who knew!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I've seen Nosferatu a few times in the last two years, it seems like, and for some reason it sticks out in my head that I've seen it too often. It felt so fresh in my head from watching it almost a year ago that it was boring to sit through this time around. I don't think this is a bad thing. I mean, it was for me tonight, but overall, it points to a good sign - the images in the film are so memorable that they got really stuck in my head.

Nosferatu, the first film to be made from Bram Stoker's novel, was directed by F. W. Murnau in 1921. It follows the book in a sense - after it was made, Murnau got sued by Stoker's widow, who correctly realized that they were ripping off the plot of her husbands book without giving him any credit. Names were changed in the move (The vampire is Count Orlock, not Dracula) and everyone was sort of happy. Otherwise, the plot is pretty similar.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Night of the Hunter

Still battling this stupid flu, which I am now blaming for a really bad pain in my lower left side. Hopefully all of this much-needed rest will help me fight it off. After another day of sleeping, I watched The Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton in 1955. It was the only movie that he ever directed, and I really have never heard anything about this movie, which seemed sort of surprising after watching it. There are so many directors who clearly saw this movie and were inspired by it, I was shocked I never heard it mentioned before. It is a really strange little movie, though, which might explain this a little.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I'm still really sick, so unfortunately I'll have to keep this post short, which is a bit of a tragedy since I love this movie so much. I'm pretty sure I'm fighting the flu, and my god, I have not been sick like this in a long time. I don't think I've had the flu for like, 10 years, but I get a job and go to work for a month and I catch it. Last night I had a 104 degree fever and I was pretty convinced that I was dying, or that my brain was boiling inside my skull. I've been asleep for 2 days straight, only getting up to take more medication or hydrate, so I'm not really in a highly functioning state. I hope you'll excuse the lazy posting.

Network, directed by Sidney Lumet in 1976 is one of my favorite movies. It feels a little dated now, the look of it, but the plot feels so current. I'm too out of it to summarize the plot, so if you need one, head over here to read one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Life to Live/Vivre Sa Vie

I put the title to this film in both French and English because if I remember anything from taking French in high school, I think that the French translates to "Her life to live", not "my". So yunno, different meanings.

I was glad to come home to a short movie - directed in 1962 by Jean-Luc Godard. It follows a woman's life in 12 sections, short and simple, and not very long. I needed simple. Everyone in my office has been sick, and coming to work,. so of course I have become ill. Being in a bright, smelly office all day made me feel sicker, and taking DayQuil made me useless. I would get up to ask someone for help with something and by the time I walked the three feet back to my desk, I would have forgotten what they told me. But trudging through work did have a plus side - I won tickets to Sunday's Chicago Blackhawks game! A brief moment of excitement to break up the shivering, tea-drinking, and coughing, which is still my current activity.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Darling Clementine

This is going to be a short post. The biggest problem with John Ford's 1946 western My Darling Clementine was that my DVD didn't work. I didn't realize until we started playing it that it was badly scratched, and I probably ended missing about 40 minutes of the movie. The parts I missed seemed to be Ebert's favorite parts - the shootout, the parts with Clementine. I feel bad since I know I probably missed what made this movie great, but it was so late that I didn't have time to find a different copy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mr. Hulot's Holiday

Today I watched Mr. Hulot's Holiday, a french comedy directed by and starring Jacques Tati in 1953. It's a cute movie, almost a silent film. It's about Mr. Hulot, a tall, angular fellow with an overstuffed pipe that he smokes. He is one of those characters who bumbles about and causes mayhem, although he doesn't realize it. Here, he invades a small seaside hotel, upsetting grumpy patrons.

It's not an insane, screwball comedy, or one with a ton of laughs. It's a lot of small moments, some that made me smile more than they made me laugh. I like that, though - not being a huge fan of comedy, I'm ok with them being small and more subtle. It was charming, and I like characters like Hulot. There were a lot of great moments, one of my favorites being the lazy dog he tries to wake in the middle of the road, or when he is out canoeing - the canoe flips over him and snaps, and he marches onto shore looking like a shark while people on the beach panic and flee.


It feels over-dramatic to go on and on about all of the things that Friz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis inspired. How can one film have done so many things? Plus, to most people, it sounds sort of dull. A strange, nightmarish silent movie – but it inspired so many famous science fiction movies, and even, as Ebert, points out, Batman. So many things, from the look and plot of Bladerunner to C3PO in Star Wars owe inspiration to this film. It seems unbelievable, but it's true – Metropolis, truly visionary, came first, and if you search enough, you'll find that most directors and writers of these works credit Lang. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

You might assume that having written a western film, I like them or know something about them. I don't. I wrote one because I don't like them. There are some that I have seen that I like, and many more that I am going to watch that I think I will like, but I hate traditional, American western movies (I say American to distinguish from spaghetti westerns). I don't really know why - I mean, I do, but not in an easy to sum up sort of way. They just don't work for me. And then, tonight I watched McCabe & Mrs. Miller, directed by Robert Altman in 1971. It is American, and it is a western, but it is not typical. It pretty much has the opposite plot of what most western films have. It doesn't feel like it has all the things I hate about westerns. I don't really relate to or understand John Wayne sort of characters, so I really liked this movie. I feel like to explain why this movie is so unconventional for a western, I have to spoil the end, so read the next paragraph at your own risk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Embarrassing film confession - I have seen only one Woody Allen movie. I never watched his films, and I don't really have an explanation for why. I guess I always felt that a lot of people I knew had a sense of disapproval about him. Like, when we would walk by his movies in Blockbuster or hear about him, someone would always be like, "Didn't he marry his 16-year-old stepdaughter?" and everyone would nod solemnly to express their distaste. I had some sort of artificial perception that he was just some weird pervert guy who made weird movies that were not good to watch. How stupid, really. In my Chinatown post, I wrote about how I separate Polanski from his work. I do that for all directors. I don't think Woody Allen's movies are bad because he's weird, just like I don't think that Stanley Kubrick is a horrible raging pervert for directing weird movies. I'm not blaming anyone for my strange aversion of this director - it was just something weird I experienced growing up and I sort of never knew better because for a long time I didn't watch movies or TV, really. so I never had a chance to just see these movies for myself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Maltese Falcon

The first pulp fiction I ever read was The Maltese Falcon, and I watched the move shortly thereafter. The film version was directed by John Huston in 1941. I'm glad I read the book first, since there were quite a few important things that were left out of the movie due to censorship - but I'm always interested in issues like that. To be honest, this is one of the best film noirs to watch if you want to get an understanding of what a film noir should look like, feel like, sound like. It has great characters that are awesome examples of archetypes in film noirs. The story is there - it just isn't as important as the gritty, dark feel of the film.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I think the first time I saw Fritz Lang's 1931 film M was in a film class. We watched some of it and I was obsessed. I rented it immediately after that so I could see the rest and watch it with my boyfriend. It's such an interesting movie. It's an early black and white movie with sound, although the dialogue remains perfectly sparse. It is also the first of a lot of things - the first serial killer movie, the first police procedural movie, and the first film to use a leitmotif (a sound or musical score repeated and associated with a character - think Darth Vader). This makes it important, but the film, even if it wasn't a Big-Important-To-Film-History-Film, it would still be amazing, and I would still love it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Le Samourai

Most people watch movies for story and character and plot and action. There is much to be excited by - lots of things to look at and emotions to feel. Then, there is minimalistic cinema, which is the absence of all of these things. There are characters, but they don't express much. There is action, but it is slow and hollow. There is such a feeling of restraint that it is almost painful. It is pretty incredible - to hold oneself back and create films while so tightly wound. Le Samourai, directed in 1967 by Jean-Pierre Melville is one such film.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lawrence of Arabia

I feel like it took me the whole day to watch this movie, and it basically did - it's about 4 hours long and I paused it at intermission to go to Whole Foods to get food for work the next day. It's a long movie but it was worth it. Lawrence of Arabia was directed in 1962 by David Lean. It seems like it would have been impossible to sell this idea. A bunch of unknown actors not doing too much in the desert for 4 hours. I'm so glad that it was made. It reminded me of all the things I loved about Aguirre, the Wrath of God - the strangeness, the madness, the epic feel and scope of the whole thing. It is everything that I love about epic, adventure movies. Sort of insane and boring but so utterly engrossing.


I had a bit of an obsession with one of the movies I watched for this project, Blow Out. My friend Zach (who looks like a more attractive version of Steve Buschemi) brought me Blow Up to watch as well, because he knew I would like it. I was really fascinated with how these movies were so...hollow. The plot isn't as important as how soulless the characters are. L'Avventura is another film like this, and I am equally as in love with it. It was directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1960. Ebert described the film as ending with "soul-sickness", which is a beautiful way to describe what happens in this film. It's not a movie about plot. It's a movie about characters who are soul-sick, who are hollow.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I might have lied a little when I said I would work on this in the morning. When you have a friend who's going away party is so awesome that the bar you are at runs out of glasses, it's hard to go home early. It was a pretty amazing night. Tyler and I tore up the bar with our karaoke, singing "My Sacrifice" by Creed. Some old lady was doing air guitar for us. People were coming by and throwing up the horns as though Creed is some sort of rock and/or metal band. I didn't get home until after 3am, and wasn't asleep until at least 5. I sort of maybe slept most of the day today, and I didn't get out to start running errands and whatnot until the late afternoon. So, blogging got...very postponed. It was worth it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Last Year at Marienbad

There are some people who love surrealism. Salvador Dali paintings are something you lose yourself in. You like Un Chien Andalou. You have seen Un Chien Andalou. Then, there are people who don't like this style at all. I can understand it. Surrealism doesn't really give you very much to work with. You have to sort of give to it, to make it have meaning for you. I am one of the people that likes surrealism. I think that my strange dreams work better as movies (and sometimes I write them down as scripts in this delusion) than screenplays I spend time and effort creating. Naturally, I liked and was intrigued by Last Year at Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais in 1961.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Lady Eve

A short comedy was the perfect film for me tonight. I become crazed at work, bored out of my mind from only staring at the soft, plush interior of my cubicle. Today I laughed loudly to myself like a manic because I was struggling to spell "schmutz" in an email, and Outlook knew how to spell it. Schmutz! Coming home to watch a comedy was pretty much what I needed. Today I watched The Lady Eve, directed by Preston Sturges in 1941. Everything was funny and I was laughing too much as soon as the movie started. I fell in love in the first few minutes, when Jean, for no reason, drops an apple onto Charles Pike's head  and the man behind Pike yells in shock. I love the combination of teasing sexuality she has and the humor of the movie. She is completely over the top but also so realistic and believable.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

La Dolce Vita

I'm sure most of you are thinking that you have never seen or heard of Frederico Fellini's 1960 movie La Dolce Vita. You might not have seen it, but you have for sure been affected by it. A word we hear every day comes from this movie, was invented from this movie - paparazzi, taken from the character of Paparazzo. He is a  photojournalist, and Fellini used the word as it means an annoying sound, like a buzzing. I know this is sort of unexciting, but I really love things like this. Language is pretty incredible, and it's really interesting to me to find out where words come from. How odd, I thought, that paparazzi is a relatively new word! Bah, of course this is boring.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've seen parts of JFK before, Oliver Stone's infamous 1991 movie. I've met and worked with someone who has a bit of a minor role in it (Michael Rooker, in a student film I helped make at DePaul). But I've never sat down and watched the whole thing from start to finish. I've heard a lot about it - everyone told me it was very controversial, because it isn't accurate to the real events. I'm too young to really understand the JFK assassination, but I understand what is presented in this movie - obsession, unrest, skepticism. I know these feelings from other tragedies that have happened during my lifetime. How people feel is not always accurate. Like when people are interviewed directly after a crime, their testimonies are usually wildly inaccurate. The point isn't that facts - the point is how we feel. I think that's the point of JFK. It's not trying to retell the events of the assassination, which most people are familiar with. It's trying to capture a mindset of doubt and unrest, and of the obsession with finding the truth.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

It seemed weird to watch what most people think of as a Christmas movie in February. Frank Capra directed It's a Wonderful Life in 1949. In Ebert's essay, he writes that, "The best and worst things that ever happened to "It's a Wonderful Life" are that it fell out of copyright protection and into the shadowy no-man's-land of the public domain. Because the movie is no longer under copyright, any television station that can get its hands on a print of the movie can show it, at no cost, as often as it wants to. And that has led in the last decade to the rediscovery of Frank Capra's once-forgotten film, and its elevation into a Christmas tradition. PBS stations were the first to jump on the bandwagon in the early 1970s, using the saga of the small-town hero George Bailey as counter-programming against expensive network holiday specials" (The Great Movies, 229).

Saturday, February 5, 2011


There are a lot of movies in America about how people react when they realize that they have become frustrated and bored with their lives. More often then not, they react with violence, in movies like Falling Down. It's a bit of a cathartic fantasy - we all get frustrated with our bosses and people around us, and in our heads we think about lashing out. Today I watched Ikiru, a film made in 1952, co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. Here, the main character realizes that he has wasted his life, and that his life is been boring and meaningless. Instead of lashing out, he tries to fix things.

Hoop Dreams

I didn't realize how long Hoop Dreams was until I started trying to watch it on Netflix. It is about 3 hours long and I became immediately unhappy. "Sports documentary, ugh," I spat. I don't watch sports. I don't understand them. I'm a dork - I play video games and read and do stupid things in my free time. I definately didn't feel like watching a long documentary about basketball. Since I didn't know it was so long, I started trying to watch it at about 9pm. Netflix started screwing up and about an hour later, I was able to watch it on my dad's Xbox upstairs - neither blu-ray player would play the movie on Netflix instant without stuttering and buffering, and my Gold subscription for Xbox Live ran out. It was around 10pm when I was able to start the movie. Even though it was so late, I was so engrossed in this documentary! I was really shocked at myself, but I think part of it was how little I needed to care about sports to care about this movie. I felt like I personally knew all of the people, and I had to keep watching to see what happened to them. After the movie was over, my mom and I needed to know what happened to them since the film, so Anthony looked up the two boys to find out. I really cared for them, and I really felt for them during the movie.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I promised some pictures of the snow disaster, so I of course, I have some for you! I'm near Chicago, so we got a pretty horrible amount of snow. Driving has been pretty stupid even still, since a lot of streets are down to one lane.
This was on Tuesday night - my car is starting to get buried and you can see lots of blowing snow.
Front door, covered with snow. 
Wednesday morning. I used to have a car. :(
If it looks like there is an ungodly mountain of snow in front of my house, it's because there actually is.
Backyard. Fire pit it totally buried. The fence is about 6 or 7 feet high, for scale. Look at how covered it is in the back!
The snow and went bent our bird feeder in half and buried the gnome.
Big piles of snow.
One more of my lost car, since it is the best and worst thing ever. 
Since then, we managed to dig our cars out and makes paths, but it's still very snowy everywhere and it's been freezing cold!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Hard Day's Night

Made it into work today. Meat-eating employees were rewarded for their bravery with Subway sandwiches that were purchased and assembled at about 7am, so by the time they ate them, they were gelatinous and gross. Traffic was disturbing and awful, and many people were stuck in all the snow. I was actually really excited to come home and watch the 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, directed by Victor Spinetti. I like The Beatles a lot, and I really love everything they revolutionized for music. I know some people who don't agree with me, though. My friend Tyler hates The Beatles, and that's ok, I understand. I don't really love Nirvana, but I really love what they did for music. It's like Citizen Kane - some people hate it, but some people can appreciate what it did for film despite how they feel about the plot. I hope that makes some sort of sense.:P


Seeing as the front door of my house was barely able to open this morning, and I literally could not see my car, I didn't go into work today. It took literally hours to snow blow everything and dig out three cars that were buried. Everything is closed around here, even grocery stores. I'll have to post some pictures of how much my car and everything was buried, I've never seen anything like it! (Pictures will be coming tomorrow!) Chicago Public Schools haven't had a snow day since 1999, but they had today off and they also have Thursday off as well, since that's how bad everything has been.

The Grand Illusion

I couldn't post this in a timely fashion since the snowOMGpocalpyse ruined our internet connection. I was able to finish watching Grand Illusion on Netflix streaming, and I hope I'll be able to watch my movie tomorrow :/

Grand Illusion was made in 1937, directed by Jean Renoir. It feels quite a bit like a film you are probably more familiar with, The Great Escape. But this film isn't about being a prisoner of war, or war at all, even. It has to do with, as Ebert writes, “a meditation on the collapse of the old order of European civilization. Perhaps that was always a sentimental upper-class illusion, the notion that gentlemen on both sides of the line subscribed to the same code of behavior. Whatever it was, it died in the trenches of World War I” (The Great Movies, 205).