Monday, May 30, 2011

Le Boucher

Sorry for making this post so late. I was too tired and full of grilled veggies to really do anything productive after I watched the movie. Today's movie is really strange, but I fell in love with it after I gave it a chance. I watched Le Boucher/The Butcher, directed by Claude Chabrol in 1970.

I was sleepy when I started to watch it, and the first twenty minutes or so of the film was really underwhelming. I actually hated it. To be totally honest, had I not been arbitrarily forced to watch the movie, I would have stopped it after those 20 boring minutes and moved on. It was that dull. Then, everything picked up. Suddenly, there was an incredible plot. There was a horrible, creepy killer on the loose! It was eerie and strange, and I became really involved in the film, which felt so weird because I was so frustrated with it in the beginning. Normally, I always hear the classic rule that if a film doesn't hook you in the first ten minutes, you will not like the rest of it. This movie was different.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

This is a hard movie to write about. It's always hard for me to explain how I can love a movie that is depressing but yet wonderful. Maybe it's because I know a lot of people who tend to shun "sad" movies, just for the reason that they are sad. I get that not everyone is always in the mood for a sad film. but personally. being forced to watch them at all times because of this project, I find it really hard to dismiss them. Life can be, and often is, sad. It is only fitting that our art reflects this.

Today I watched Leaving Las Vegas, directed by Mike Figgis in 1995. It's not a happy movie, but it still has traces of optimism. There is something good that can be found even in extreme depression. The film is wonderful, with a realistic portrayal of alcoholism and other tough issues. It's not wonderful because it made me feel happy afterward, but because I could see that it was real. It deals with ugly, painful, topics, and they are often tough to watch. I really applaud the film for showing this side of the issue. I am not a big Nic Cage fan, either. I sort of hate Nic Cage. I have been mislead by Ebert to see Nic Cage films before, but here, he could act! That is something else, really.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I don't really feel like writing, because I'm tired from shopping all day. Poor me, being given gifts all day and bought nice things, stuffed from eating deep dish pizza and beer. My life is really hard, guys. (I kid, I kid!)

After I came home from my expedition, I watched Laura, directed by Otto Preminger in 1944. I was pretty happy to watch a film noir, and even happier that it had a young Vincent Price in it. I was excited on more levels than normal because Anthony and I are playing L.A. Noire (a noir video game!) together right now. How does one play a single-player game with two people? He does the driving and the street crime, and I investigate crime scenes and interrogate everyone. It's had me even more in the mood for noir than I usually am.  I really liked the movie. It had all the great little plot twists that somehow worked really well. The acting is really great as well, and I had a lot of fun watching it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Last Laugh

I got a lot of good news today, and much celebration followed. I went out for a big, nice meal with my parents and Anthony. I watched this movie before we left, so I'm going to try to post before I fall into a food coma.

The film, directed by F. W. Murnau in 1924, is a really interesting and great silent film. I wasn't really in the mood for a silent film at first. I was antsy and unfocused, and I wondered if that is how everyone else I know feels when they try to watch a silent movie. Once it got going and I settled in the plot, I was totally hooked. I loved this movie. It is really different from other silent films I've seen, and although it was a first at little sad, it didn't dampen my excited mood at all. I never would have found this movie on my own, so I'm really happy I was able to watch it for my project. The poster for this looks scary. It is not a scary film,. I promise.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

King Kong (1933)

I felt like I should include the year with today's movie, because there are quite a few versions. You've got your 1970's King Kong with Jeff Bridges, who looks exactly like my friend Barry. Then you've got the 2005 why-did-this-happen Peter Jackson version. This one is the classic, the 1933 version with Fay Wray, co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, and it was fun to watch it again. It actually made me hate the Peter Jackson version a little less, because I saw what a straight remake it actually was. Can you believe I forgot there were so many dinosaurs in the 1933 film?

It was great to see this movie after so long, and it was fun to watch it with my family. It's hard to not love King Kong, especially because we have it to thank for every exciting creature-based movie ever, like Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Alien(s) and other such classic films.The special effects are clearly dated, but I thought they were really impressive. I'm also dumb, and often forget what sort of technology there was in 1933, so I did sort of just gape at this movie and thought it was all quite good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kind Hearts and Coronets

I usually really like black comedy but I just feel really meh about today's movie, directed in 1949 by Robert Hamer. I guess I don't usually watch older black comedies, so I'm probably used to a level of disturbing that isn't quite present here. Maybe I expected it? I don't really know why I didn't feel anything for this movie. It just fell sort of flat for me, and that's really all I can say to explain myself.

The movie is about Louis, a distant relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne. To inherit the title, he plans to kill off the other members of the family. I like the premise of this movie a lot, but to be honest, it didn't live up to my black comedy expectations. A word about my black comedy expectations - I really like horrible, horrible dark, black comedy. Todd Solondz black comedy.  Or at least up to say, the standards of the original Death at a Funeral. Not that this movie wasn't funny. There were parts that were! I just emerged very meh, but I also went into the movie feeling very meh, so take that as you will.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy

Today I watched the last film in the Three Colors Trilogy. I really enjoyed all of them, and am so happy to have finally seen them. The three films were directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, and the last one, Red, was completed in 1994. Ebert writes that he planned to retire from filmmaking after these were finished - and he did. He died two years later, only 56.

I really have loved all of the films that I have seen from him. They really have a great sense of artistry and feel unique to me. I like how ambiguous they all are, too. There isn't just one clear-cut meaning for all the films, and they give me a lot to think about after they are over. The Three Colors trilogy is no different. There is so much meaning to be found, and there are lots of symbols and themes that come up in all three movies. It makes it really fun (for dorks like me) to ponder about afterward.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kieślowski's Three Colors Trilogy

Just a heads up of some kind.  I'm watching Blue, White, and Red, from Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors Trilogy right now. I am ashamed to say that I've never seen them before, but I watched Blue last night, and was really moved by it. It was a truly beautiful film and I can't wait to watch the other two. I'll post about them all together once I'm done. Kieślowski directed The Decalogue, which I really loved as well, so I'm excited to finally check these out.

Nikita lounges on a swing outside.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jules and Jim

It's fitting that the poster for Jules and Jim, directed in 1962 by François Truffaut, does not feature neither Jules nor Jim. It shows Catherine, a woman that they are both in love with. It is another one of those movies that did a lot of revolutionary things that are a little hard to understand now. It's a lot to summarize what was new about this movie, and some of it I didn't pick up on right away. Ebert mentions that the movie was made with joy, and I can feel that as well. It still comes across and makes the movie feel really fresh and not dated in any way.

I really liked the story, first and foremost. It can be tough to figure out what exactly was so new in a film like this, where so many of our movie have been influenced by this style. I put that sort of analysis on a back-burner, and just watched the movie focusing on the story, the message, and the acting. I really enjoyed all of those parts together. I loved that I got to know all of the characters so well, and I was really drawn into the plot. It was  a great, relaxing way to spend my afternoon.

Friday, May 20, 2011


There is pretty much no debate about whether or not Jaws, directed in 1975 by Steven Spielberg, is a great movie. It's clearly masterful, and obviously well-shot, directed, written, and acted. It's an incredible movie, and so much talent and skill and love went into making it.

The only question I have is how much I enjoy watching it over and over again. I really enjoyed the movie when I first saw it as a kid, but it does seem to lose some it's excitement, for me, each time I see it. It's sort of like, once I know what is going to happen, it gets a little more dull to watch each time. I did watch it feeling tired and full of food today, but I just wasn't as engrossed in the tension or scares this time. Maybe it's just me. Keep in mind, I'm not saying that I don't like the movie, or I don't think it's great. It's great. I just wasn't feeling it today, but that doesn't mean it is not great.

Here is a kita.

I think my blog was lacking in Nikita pictures, so here are some. Daaaaw!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Cold Blood

I feel so sleepy. I guess it's a little late, but not nearly late enough for how tired I feel. Pardon my short post, I don't know what's with me today. I watched In Cold Blood, directed by Richard Brooks in 1967, based on the Truman Capote book of the same name. I actually never have read In Cold Blood, which seems stupid, given my hideous love of true crime. I did see the more modern version of the book, the aptly named Capote, which I liked quite a bit.

Anyway, my general like of these things made me feel like I would love this movie, and I really enjoyed it. It was a little slow and meandering, but I was also a little tired while watching it. I really liked the stark black and white, and the unknown actors. They were great in their roles, and Ebert wrote that Richard Blake even went on to actually murder someone. Perhaps this is why he was so convincing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Hustler

Spent today cleaning, which was nice. I got a lot of things in my room organized, and although it sounds boring, it was a nice, mind-clearing activity. Plus, who doesn't feel better in a clean space? I did, however, realize I didn't have food to eat for lunch and was too broke to go purchase something for myself. I thought that eating a piece of mushroom jerky was a good choice. It was in the sense that it was delicious (uh yes I do eat fake beef jerky do you have any other questions?) but not in the sense that it was not very filling.

After having a traditional Polish meal of sauerkraut and noodles with fake kielbasa, I watched today's movie, The Hustler, directed in 1961 by Robert Rossen. My mom told me earlier in the day that my grandpa had really liked this movie, so it was fun to watch it, as I had never seen it before. It was a really great film, and I see why so many people love it. The characters were so incredibly well-written - the men and the women. It felt real, and gritty, and fascinating.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

House of Games

I was so happy to watch today's movie - House of Games, directed in 1987 by David Mamet. He's an incredibly talented guy, and I have really liked the movies that he's written scripts for or directed. I always can appreciate good writing, and he's fantastic at it. House of Games is another one of those movies that everyone I know except me have seen and love. Guys - share, please. :) I thought this was a great movie, the sort of film I'd love to own so I could watch it whenever I wanted.

I thought the characters were incredibly well-written, and the whole story was great as well. It's just an really engrossing film - we get as sucked into the story as the main character does. I was so happy that no one I knew told me anything about the plot, too. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you should find it and watch it. I'll try to not spoil the plot, but this is a fun movie to watch without any previous knowledge. Much more exciting, I imagine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Great Expectations

Today I watched Great Expectations, directed by David Lean in 1946. It seems like every positive review of this focuses on how great of an adaption the movie is. Even Ebert brings up the fact that it is mostly great because it's so well adapted. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I've never read the Charles Dicken's novel. I honestly have only read like, Oliver Twist, in high school, and I don't remember liking it. It feels dumb to talk about how I've never read anything by an incredibly famous author, but here you go.

So, with that in mind, I didn't really like today's movie, at all. It felt like it was six hours long, even though it was only two. I didn't care about the characters. I didn't like the plot. The way everyone talked just irritated me. I did not like Pip's large bow ties.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grave of the Fireflies

I have what can only be described as an extreme prejudice about anime. It feels juvenile to even say it, but I never found myself attracted to it at all. I mostly felt this way in high school, where it seemed too happy and goofy and did not fit in with my sullen, serious, life, where I would sit and watch Ratcatcher on a blow-up Aerobed. I know I saw an anime or two at some point - Princess Mononoke, I think, but I don't remember it. For that reason, I always consider today's movie to be the first anime I ever watched all the way through. I was glad to watch Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata in 1988, today when I got home.

I watched it in my history of Japan class that I took in college. I was skeptical of it, of course. "Peh," I thought, "how could anime be serious enough to deal with war and stuff?" Of course, I was so stupidly wrong. This is one of the best films about war that I have ever seen. It shows the suffering and grief, but without any distractions of violence or gore, if that makes any sense. It works so perfectly as an animated film, and I think so much of what makes this great would have been lost in a live-action movie. It is a sad movie, one of those ones that deeply affects you and stays with you later. You might not cry, but you will always think of these characters, because the grief you will feel will be profound. I hate saying movies are sad, because I feel like it turns off a lot of people. It is a sad movie, but it is a beautiful movie, and an important movie. It's about war, and like it or not, war is filled with sorrow, and it needs to be conveyed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath

Maybe I feel really meh about all movies lately. I don't really feel too excited about today's movie, either. It's another film where I can tell it's masterfully made, but it's not really something I find myself getting too worked up about. Today I watched The Grapes of Wrath, based on the Steinbeck novel of the same name. It was directed in 1940 by John Ford. He's a really talented director, you can tell he has a great eye and vision. I just didn't find myself getting as involved in the story as I probably should have been.

This will probably be a shorter post, since I don't really know what to say about movies where I feel so unenthusiastic. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

I watched The Gospel According to St. Matthew, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1964. It tells the story of Jesus, from his birth until his crucifixion and resurrection. I don't find myself a particularly religious person - my beliefs tend to range from "meh" to "hrm" on any given day. However, I liked the movie - not loved, probably would not watch it again, but I liked it's version of these events.


Goodfellas, directed in 1990 by Martin Scorsese, is one of my favorite movies. I love that it’s not just a typical mafia movie. It was made with love, by someone who grew up in that violent environment. I know I said before that Scorsese tried to make movies that showed “everyday violence”, the kind that he saw growing up in his neighborhood in Little Italy. He clearly tries to show this aspect of life in Goodfellas, as well. There seems to be a constant underscore of violence in the movie, and often, the most brutal scenes happen randomly after people are barely provoked. He gives it context, though, and real, well-written characters to back up the story. We watch them do bad things, but we know them so well that we can’t help but feel for them. Or well, at least I can’t.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This is not going to be another post about a western that I preface with “I hate westerns, but...” I do hate some westerns. But I also like a lot of westerns, the more I explore the genre. I hate John Wayne-era westerns. They feel so campy and neat and pretty to me. In my imagination, the west was a dark, gritty place, and I see that come to life in this movie. For those unfamiliar, it was directed by Sergio Leone in 1966, and I just adore his over-the-top version of the west.

I think it can be hard to remember what was so groundbreaking and new about this movie when it came out. Clint Eastwood is a household name, but he wasn't in 1966. He was a TV star that no one thought would succeed. “In those days,” Ebert writes, “it was thought that a movie audience wouldn't pay to see an actor it could watch for free” (Great Movies II, 161). He got paid barely anything for his work with Leone, but it paid off. People were also much more used to the Wayne west, where there was not so much blood and dirt, where everything was filmed in the US. Here, Leone gave us big sweeping foreign vistas. People with dark, sun-stained skin. Blistering, peeling faces and grit covering everything. It was sort of alien, almost. I know there were many critics who didn't like Leone's emphasis on style, but I really love it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Let me just apologize in advance for how negative this post is. I just really didn't like this movie. I think most people have noticed by now that I really like most movies. I tend to forgive them for dullness or meandering because I liked parts of them. It generally takes a lot for me to actively hate something, so I hope you'll just accept this as a rare moment where I actually actively hate something. It's not personal or anything, this is just my opinion. 

I hate James Bond. I hated this movie. I hate this movie poster that has a picture of a dead body on it and proclaims "Everything he touches turns to excitment!". Like sexy dead ladies! Even Ebert's essay has the dead, gold-covered girl as his still image, Bond stroking her sexily. This is dumb. "Not every man would like to be James Bond," he says, waxing poetic, "but every boy would." I hope not.
This is one of those movies that ruins my day. That the less I say about it, the better, because I know that no one will agree with me and it's not even worth how taxing arguing about it might be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Five Easy Pieces

I think I'm actually sunburned from being outside so long yesterday. That's crazy! I really had such a nice day, just relaxing with my extended family. I always feel so lucky that we all live so close together and have such easy, nice relationships. Love you guys <3

Today's movie is Five Easy Pieces, directed in 1970 by Bob Rafelson. I really loved this movie. It's one of the movies that was part of New Hollywood, when American cinema changed greatly. I've written about it before, and this is such a great example of it. I have a hard time believing that I never really heard about this up until now, who knows. I'm so glad a got a chance to watch it. It has all those great characteristics that I love about this period - the focus on a blue collar hero dealing with everyday problems, a character that viewers can personally relate to. This was pretty out of the norm for so long. Movies were about epic stories or fantastical people, not guys like you and me. I know a lot of people I know will be interested in this movie because of Jack Nicholson, and hey, he's actually incredible in it! You've got to see this movie if you haven't.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Fireman's Ball

Happy Mother's Day, to all the wonderful mom and grandmas out there! It's a great day - perfect for sitting outside and eating bratwurst, which is the plan for the rest of my day. Of course, I had to stay inside for about an hour to watch a movie, but it was a short, great comedy, and I was more than happy to watch it.

Today I watched The Fireman's Ball, directed by Milos Forman in 1967. It was pretty fantastic. Forman directed this movie in the Czech Republic, right around when there was an uprising against the Soviets. Directors and films like this on were banned, seen as subversive and as an attack on the Soviet system. Like many directors who lived in the Czech Republic during this time, he found great success in America. He had a great career, and directed some of my favorite films like Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I really loved this movie. It has fascinating historical meaning, but it still is funny and interesting today.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Fall of the House of Usher

Such a fun day today - got my hair did, and of course, it looks amazing. I love my stylist, she seems to understand what I want even though I always think I describe things really vague and badly. I keep getting it a little lighter and blonder each time I go in (it was basically black, or has had black mixed in, up until a few months ago). I only think that's worth mentioning because the movie I watched today reminded me a lot of the many years of my life I spent dressed in gothy clothes. I still listen to the same horrible goth and metal music (some of the time) but my style has changed a lot form the days of huge platform boots and smudged black eyeliner.

Today when I got home, I watched The Fall of the House of Usher, directed by Jean Epstein in 1928. It's obviously based on the Edgar Allen Poe story of the same name. Not only do I love morbid, dark, things, I love literature - and predictably, I am a pretty huge fan of Poe. When I was in high school I'd listen to music, light candles, and read Poe or Lovecraft in my bedroom. Their fascination with twisted dark, and often sad things seemed to match my own obsessions. With Poe, you can just feel his torment seep from the pages of his writing. Not that I was anywhere near as tormented, but yunno, 15-year-old girls think they are.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Earrings of Madame de...

We've been having a new roof put on our house, which is overly loud. Ah well. I don't really care too much when the weather is so nice. I went out today to get plants for my garden - lots of different peppers, patty pans, tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, kale, and even leeks! I'm really excited, I love having fresh produce, there is nothing that compares to it.

Today's movie was The Earrings of Madame de... directed by Max Ophuls in 1953. I really liked it, it was shot really well, with so many long scenes (which are such a feat). I liked the plot as well, it was different than I thought it would be. I had some vague impression that it would be about a pair of earrings be passed from woman to woman, thus the "Madame de..." part of the title. However, it's more about how one pair of earrings kept coming back to one woman.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don't Look Now

Movies like this are why I love doing this project. I never heard Don't Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg in 1973. I like that Ebert doesn't just pick the films that everyone sort of expects - he embraces so many different genres and styles. Today's movie is a sort of horror movie, one that focuses on the creepy side of the occult. I like horror movies, but I'm always afraid to say I'm a big fan or something, since I'm so picky about the ones that I like. Anyway, because I sort of love them, I was happy to see that he gave some attention to the genre.

The film also really made me think of David Lynch, which I know is pretty film school 101 of me, but I sort of love him. There were a few scenes that really made me think of some stylistic elements that I've seen him use before (like using distorted noises). I really liked seeing that element. I'm not an expert, but the internet says his first feature was in 1977, so maybe he saw this movie and was a little inspired? It's interesting to think that, although I'm obviously not sure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

I was pretty excited to watch this movie today, because I really liked the other films I've seen that Luis Bunuel directed. It's actually a little hard to write about, because it's sort of similar to one of his other films, The Exterminating Angel. In Angel, a group of people become trapped in a house for no explainable reason after a meal. In Charm, a group of wealthy people go from place to place attempting to eat dinner but are unable to. Of course, they're also not the same at all, but the plots are similar, and have the same strange sense of humor.

I really liked this movie - I've pretty much been in love with all the other Bunuel films that I've seen, and this one is no exception. It's really odd, but it works really well. It has a sort of prodding humor in it. It's not your normal laugh-out-loud kind of comedy, but it's more sly, and a bit absurd. I like that about it. Plus, I like his style, the odd surrealism and how everything is a little off-kilter.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cries and Whispers

I really am finding it hard to write about today's movie - Cries and Whispers, directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1972. I fully understand why this is a masterpiece, but I just...wasn't in the mood for this. I really appreciate what Bergman did in this movie. To be able to film scenes that capture pain and torment so perfectly is incredible. It makes you feel different after watching it. It just was frustrating to me to have to watch it when I wasn't really wanting to see more depressing and confrontational things. I don't mean this as like, a "Boy do I love to pretend that negative emotions don't exist!" sort of thing. It was more just like, "Man, crap is happening to people I love and it sucks, I'll do whatever I can for them but I need some time to not obsess about bad feelings." I hope that makes some kind of sense.

Unfortnately for me, Bergman's movie is a study of bad feelings. It's hard when I can see a movie that is clearly a great work, but can't say that I liked it. It just didn't work with my mood today, but I could see why it is so famous, and it clearly is a masterpiece. I think the perfect way to put it is that although I loved it, I didn't enjoy it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Conversation

I spent most of the day sitting outside and reading, which was fun. I came in once it got chilly to watch today's movie - The Conversation, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1974. I'll be honest, I never heard of this movie before. I watched it by myself, but when Anthony came over, he said he had never heard of it either. I feel pretty suprised that we haven't! I would assume that for gets overshadowed by Coppola's other works. No one wants to tell there friends to watch a serious thriller like this film - it's much more exciting to watch mafia movies or Vietnam movies. Well, maybe it's not, but that's my best guess.

I really loved this film. It was such a perfect slow burn, building up to the tense scenes with so much care. I love that sort of style, so this just worked so well for me. There was so much time to get involved in the plot and get to know the characters that when the action picked up a little, it was so exciting and tense! I could tell that some parts of it were inspired by Blow Up (and later I'm sure helped to contribute to the inspiration behind Blow Out). Loving both of those movies, I pretty much melted instantly for this film.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Color Purple

Another beautiful, fun day. It was warm and sunny, perfect weather for grilling while sipping some tasty brews. Anthony and I went to see Werner Herzog's new film The Cave of Forgotten Dreams today as well. It's a documentary about the oldest cave paintings ever discovered, and the whole thing is shot in 3-D. It sounds sort of dull but it was incredible, and we kept talking about it for the rest of the day. It was stunning.

Enough about Herzog. Today I watched The Color Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985. I read the book my senior year of high school, and I really liked it. I never saw the movie, though. Ebert mentions it has some meh parts - like how negatively it portrays all of the black men in the film. The movie, though, is not a big statement about how all people act. It's just one story, one person's life story, and I think in that respect it works really well.