Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Searchers

I unashamedly love today's movie - The Searchers, directed by John Ford in 1956. It has everything that I normally hate, like John Wayne and John Ford, but it's one of my favorite movies. It's shot incredibly well, and so many shots are just breathtaking. It also is not a traditional role at all for John Wayne - he plays a character who is racist and suspicious, who can't really function well in normal society.

I feel like I've watched The Searchers at least once a year, which is sort of funny because some director or another I liked once said that he does the same. I haven't meant to watch it so much - I just always saw it for classes in college, or later, worked it into my essays that I was writing (even a poetry essay!) I don't feel tired of it, though. To me, it always stands apart from other westerns, and I always enjoy watching it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I always seem to have the hardest time writing about famous movies. I think it's because I've already read and heard so much about them, that I feel like there's not so much left to say that's new. It's hard to go into a movie as infamous as Brian De Palma's 1983 Scarface and look at it fresh, even if you haven't seen it. You know the movie just because of popular culture, and you take that with you when you watch it.

I can't remember the last time I saw this movie, and I loved watching it again today. It's so over the top and so different than most crime movies. Pacino is so incredible. He has such a great range as an actor that during this movie it almost looks physically impossible that he is the same person who later put on big glasses and a cardigan for You Don't Know Jack (Ebert reminded me of it today on Facebook, as he has just watched it). There are way too many actors who just succeed on playing similar characters, often themselves. It can be funny for a while, but I get sick of it quickly, and it's always so great to see an actor really lose himself in a role like this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Say Anything

It's sort of funny that I was reminiscing about movies I loved in high school (that were also about high school) last night, and today I had to watch a classic high school movie - Say Anything, directed by Cameron Crowe in 1989. To be honest, I never saw this move before! I guess I just spent most of my time sulking around watching Ghost World and The Crow or something, who knows. I feel like I had already seen this, though - I think everyone knows the famous boom box scene, and of course "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen."

I can't say that this is number one on my list of romantic comedies or high school movies, but I think it might have made the list. The main plot was somehow very realistic (at least to me) and I thought that the two characters relationship was believable. The best part was how well-written the support characters were - they felt familiar, like people I knew, and I really got a kick out of them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

I don't think I can write too much about this movie because I just disliked it so much. I didn't hate it, I guess - I just disliked it. I can see why it might be a really appealing movie, but for me, it just did not work at all.

Today I watched Saturday Night Fever, directed by John Badham in 1977. I wasn't a fan of the main character, so I didn't care what happened to him. It was weird, because I remember everyone who I ever spoke to about it acting like it was this great, happy comedy or something. I wish I had known that it was such a dark movie, because I might have liked it more. But only maybe. It seems like some kind of failure on someone's part that people only remember this as a happy, dancey movie, and not the dark parts of it (which are plentiful).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Rules of the Game

Today's movie is The Rules of the Game, directed by Jean Renoir in 1939. I kept putting off watching it all day. The title made it sound exciting, but the plot summaries I kept reading sounded boring - some dull comedy about rich French people or something.Then, suddenly, on the way back from some errands, I thought I remembered this movie. "Isn't this the one," I said frantically to Anthony, "where all those French people stay in a chateau together, and they go hunting, and there's this really extended scene of them killing rabbits?" I could not think of any other plot details other than "kill rabbits", and I could not, no matter what, remember the title. "I hope that what I'm thinking of is the movie for today," I mused.

And it was! I think I saw this in a history of film class, and I remember being shocked that something that sounded so blah could actually be so awesome. The movie is funny, sad, and totally engrossing. I don't really understand a lot of the social commentary, but I still find it to be so funny and interesting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Romeo and Juliet

I really thought that I would hate this movie - not only did it sound meh, I was sick of movies and writing from too much posting today. When I was done running errands, I sat down to watched Romeo and Juliet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968. I was rolling my eyes about five minutes in and complaining that I didn't need to watch a movie that just word for word, read out of the play I had read 5303093 times as an English major. I really do feel burned out on this story. It was a few years ago, but it feels like only months ago, since I wrote a really long essay on how, structurally speaking, Romeo and Juliet is not a traditional tragedy and actually resembles Shakespeare's comedies. Snore.

Since I haven't said I hated the movie yet, I'm sure you've already guess that magically, the movie was great and I was proven to be wrong - it was actually awesome, and I really enjoyed watching it. It was very well cast and well directed, and even though I felt so sick of the play, I found this movie version to be really interesting and an engaging watch.

The Right Stuff

I ended up being able to get this to work over Netflix Instant, which is pretty great considering we were running it off of a generator! I'm glad that the power is back on, but mostly because I have a brief slew of movies that are all on Instant coming up, and it will be nice to be able to watch them without so much hassle.

Last night I watched The Right Stuff, directed by Philip Kaufman in 1983, adapted from the Tom Wolfe (white suit Tom Wolfe) novel of the same name. I never read the novel, although I want to read it now, because I sort of love that author, secretly. It's a really long movie, but it's pretty great. The topic sounds like it could be so boring and overly-technical, but it was very focused on great and memorable characters. While there were times that the whole "space race" felt a little hard to understand (for me, having not lived through it or anything), I cared so deeply about the characters that I felt excited for them and was cheering them on, just because I wanted them to succeed because I liked them and felt so close to them.


Power is finally back, but I'm hanging out at a B&N for a while just because. Sometimes I work better when there are less distractions, and my house is full of them. Everything is a mess in my room because I couldn't see where to put anything away for the last few days, so I know if I was at home, I'd be cleaning and screwing around, not focusing.

The other night, I hooked up the TV and Blu-ray player to the generator and watched Rififi, a French crime film, directed in 1955 by Jules Dassin. Because I used the TV upstairs, my parents either had to watch the foregin, black and white film, or go to bed - so they watched it with me. I think this is maybe the first time that anyone other than Anthony has sat and watched an older, foreign film with me, so that was sort of fun. It was a really great movie - we all loved the story and the style, and it reminded us of all of our favorite heist films. It had a much more noir style, though, than other heist movies. It was great because it wasn't just about the crime - it was also about the characters and the consequences.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Update

Still without power here. The guys at ComEd told us that there were only 19 homes left in our area without power...and mine is included in that number. :/ They said they have no idea why we are still out, which means we really have no idea when it could be back!

Last night I diverted some power from the generator and watched Rififi by candlelight. Maybe tomorrow I'll venture out with my netbook and get a post up for you guys. I miss doing my project!

Currently, we're all huddled upstairs around candles in the dark, about to dive into some deep dish. Out of boredom we're trying to see if we can get power to the wireless router with the generator because the only way I can watch my movie for tonight is over Netflix Instant. It seems really crazy to use the generator we got to save the two fridges full of new groceries and fish tanks to watch movies, but it's sort of a fun little adventure :)

Oddly enough right now my netbook can get a wireless signal, but not the Blu-ray player. Man, this has been a weird week.

Well, expect a post about Rififi soon, and hopefully The Right Stuff as well...but no promises, it's been pretty crazy! I just wanted to keep you guys updated.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An update!

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know why I haven't been posting the last few days. We had really horrible storms (like, 80mph+ winds out of nowhere) in my area, and the power went out on Tuesday night. Currently, it's still out at my house, and I'm not too sure when it's going to be back on. You know how it is - the estimates always change so much! Fortunately our house and cars were not damaged, so we are mostly just inconvenienced.
We do have a generator so that my fish tanks and our fridges are up and running. If it's possible, I might see if I could watch tonight's movie on generator power, but I probably wouldn't be able to post about it until the electricity is actually back.

For the two movies that I had to skip, Rashamon and Rear Window, I'm just going to put them at the bottom of the list, and I'll watch them at the end of the whole project.

I can't really take any more time to write at the moment, but I just wanted to let you guys know that I haven't vanished or stopped my project or anything like that.
Hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I remember the first time I ever rented Ran. I got it from the local library when I was in high school after hearing from some source or another that it was a good movie. I had just received a new laptop, for college, and I set it up at a desk and watched Ran on it, stuffed into an uncomfortable desk chair. I remember being astonished by the color and beauty of the beginning, but unfortunately after that, I managed to fall asleep sitting in the awful desk chair.

Because I was so dumb the last time I tried to watch this movie, I felt excited to watch it today - even though it's so long! It was directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1985. He actually directed it when he was 75, which seems to me to be an impressive feat. I was really tired from work today, but I was still really interested in and fascinated by this colorful and unique movie. I never read King Lear, the Shakespeare play the film is based on, but I still loved the plot and the amazing directing. Kurosawa inspired so many of my favorite directors, and for good reason. His eye for beautiful compositions and amazing fight scenes was simply just amazing, and his films always feel and look like no other.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Raise the Red Lantern

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. My family and I had a celebration on Saturday - a wonderful cook out with my aunt and uncle. Today, I mostly ran errands (got some cute office supplies for my desk at work), but I got home for some grilling and raspberry tart with my parents.

I will admit, I was a little less than enthused to watch today's movie. It is Raise the Red Lantern, directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991. The title gave me the impression that it was some sort of bland historical film, or at least something boring. I read a brief plot summary before I watched it, and immediately became so much more interested in the film - and relieved to find out it wasn't another 3 hour epic like I had imagined.

The movie is beautiful to look at, and a little unsettling to watch. It's got a really fascinating plot, and incredible acting. I was immediately drawn into the film in the first few minutes - the look of it was so awesome that I immediately wanted to keep watching and see more.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I honestly can't remember the last time that I saw today's movie - Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1981. I think the last time that I saw this was probably the first time. I always seem to catch the more dopey sequels on TV, and I think those were in my head when I started to watch this movie today. I kept dreading watching this movie. "I don't like Indiana Jones," I continually said, thinking of movies like Temple of Doom. Everyone I mentioned this to reacted with displeasure, certain that I hated fun.

I tried to watch this movie again with an open mind, and it seemed to work. I found myself actually having fun watching the movie and enjoying myself. It was pretty enjoyable adventure movie, which is saying a lot, coming from me. I would have rather been watching Aguirre or something, but I still thought this was entertaining. What's cool about this film, though, is that there's actually a pretty neat story buried under the traditional adventure plot.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Producers

Today's movie is another famous comedy that I have never seen before, somehow - Mel Brooks' The Producers, which he wrote and directed in 1968. I knew what it was about, but I just never watched it before. I was glad that I did! I found my first week of work to be really exhausting - so much stuff to learn, people to meet, and things to do! I really like my job so far, but it's been a hard adjustment! I was glad that Ebert put two great comedies back to back, since it was energizing and fun to have some hilarious movies to watch in the evening. I'm not sure I could have mustered up focus for something more serious.

The acting and writing are totally over the top in this movie, but it was so funny. Mel Brooks is not really known for his subtly. I had a lot of fun and laughed a lot during this movie - it was ridiculous but also awesome. Plus it had Gene Wilder, who I love out of some strange version of Stockholm syndrome, after being so traumatized as a child by his role as Willy Wonka. Who would cast him for that part, seriously?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I don't want to admit this, but I've somehow never seen today's movie. How have I avoided it for so long? The only answer I could think of when pressed to answer is that "The title always sounded educational or something." Planes, Trains and Automobiles is known to most as the classic 1987 John Hughes film, but I think it used to be a slogan for a local hobby shop, which might have soured the thought of watching it. I really have no excuse, though. I can't believe no one introduced me to this, and I can't believe that I never rented it on my own.

I loved this movie! Anthony and I were laughing so hard the entire time. There was even a point where I started crying, I was laughing so hard. Steve Martin and John Candy were so perfect. It was sort of corny at times, especially with the soundtrack, but it somehow just made it even better. The acting felt so natural, and even though the comedy was pretty over the top, it just felt totally plausible at points. I really can't believe how great this movie was, and that I never saw it before. I needed a good laugh, and this was beyond perfect for me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Picnic at Hanging Rock

I can't stop yawning today! I need to try to get some sleep - my first full day of work was really busy, and I'm still adjusting to having to wake up early and be functional for so long! Even though it was tiring, I was happy to be at work today. It's tough to adjust now after being unemployed for so long, but I know that I will.

The movie that I watched today was Picnic at Hanging Rock, directed by Peter Weir in 1975.  It was a really eerie movie. It felt like a nightmare - where everything feels off and you feel so deeply wrong about everything. The soundtrack was creepy, the acting was creepy, the plot was creepy - so much about this movie disturbed me. There was something about it that reminded me of bad dreams, when you want to shake the feeling of them but can't.  I don't know if being a little drowsy made me more suggestible to the eerie feelings in this movie, who knows. Even though I was weirded out by it, I sort of loved the movie. It's effective at being creepy, and clearly has all sorts of symbolism and odd undertones. It's pretty amazing when any movie can make you feel an emotion really strongly, even if it's an uncomfortable emotion. I really like this movie for how strange it made me feel (that sounds weird!).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today's movie was Patton, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner in 1970. It was written by Francis Ford Coppola as well. I hate to not give this movie as much attention as I want to, but I have to get up in a few hours, and as anyone who has seen Patton knows, it's a really long movie to watch. Unfortunately, I couldn't start it until I got home tonight at 9pm, but I finished it!

I had never seen it before, but it was really great. I loved the eccentric personality of Patton, and it was even better that the whole movie was just from his point of view. There were times I was actually surprised at how little the other characters were involved in the movie. They had so little development and personality compared to him - but Patton is such a huge character that it might just be hard to compare. It takes some seriously great writing to create a character-driven film that is interesting for three hours, but Coppola did it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paris, Texas

I have been so looking forward to watching today's movie since I watched Wings of Desire. Paris, Texas was all directed by Wim Wenders as well, in 1984. I loved Wings of Desire - it was one of the most unique movies that I watched for the project, and I just was in awe of it. I imagined that Paris, Texas would be equally as interesting and different. I had often heard that it was similar in theme to The Searchers, a favorite movie of mine, and that just made me even more interested in this film.

I was not disappointed. I could see the style that I fell in love with before. The emphasis on dialogue and character. The main character, Travis, reminds Ebert (and I) of the angel in Wings of Desire - "He loves and cares, he empathizes, but he cannot touch. He does not have that gift" (Great Movies II, 318). There was a  really interesting restraint to the whole movie, and I loved that it mostly just focused on dialogue and story, and didn't try to add in action or anything just to make things exciting. I love that Wenders knows that just the characters are enough.

The Inner Workings of this Crazy Project

I often surprise people when I mention how much work went into setting everything up for this project, and maintaining it. I thought it might be vaguely interesting to write about it, so you guys can see what goes on behind the scenes. Heh, movie jokes (I kid, I kid).

Hopefully this isn't too long and dull!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The idea behind today's movie sounded a little meh when I first heard about it. A retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus - how good could that be? It sounded sort of unexciting to me. It was really hard for me to track down a copy of this movie, as well, which I think made me harbor some ill-will towards the film. The film was directed by Jean Cocteau in 1949, and I think Criterion is releasing a new Blu-ray of this film in a few months. I wish I had been able to watch that version, but alas, my timing just didn't work out.

Despite my initial feelings about the movie, I ended up loving it. It's a strange film, for sure. It's odd to hear names like Orpheus and Eurydice spoken in normal society, and Cocteau changes the plot quite a bit, as well. It's a really fantastical film, full of neat little effects and great acting. I liked his retelling of the story. It was really interesting and unique, and a shockingly engrossing watch. I loved Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, because he created such a cool fantasy world. He does it again here, as well, and it's seriously great.

Thank you!

Wow - so many new followers! I saw last night that Ebert mentioned my blog on his Facebook page (thanks so much, Roger!), and I was so touched by all of the nice comments that were posted. :) It pretty much made my weekend that he mentioned my little project, and to see how positively so many people responded to it. Ebert has definitely been a huge inspiration in my life - he changed the way I think about film, and I always have admired his writing. It's really exciting that he found my blog, and so meaningful that he likes it enough to share it with others. I feel so lucky!

I've been working on this project since December, and sometimes I've wondered if anyone was reading my posts, especially when I first started out. I often felt like I was just babbling to myself. It was sometimes difficult to keep working on this. I had to watch a lot of movies by myself, and sometimes I missed out on going out and all those sorts of things as a result. It's hard to find time during holidays or when relatives were in town to sneak off and watch a whole movie and write about it. I can't think of how many times I had to tell my friends I couldn't come out because I had a long movie to watch on a Saturday night. I'd ask them to come and join me for my film, but it's not like a lot of 20-somethings are jumping at the chance to watch French New Wave or whatever. At one point, one of my friends offered to join me for an old, silent movie I had to watch. "I'll be tired, though," he said, "so I probably would just sleep during it."

I'm starting a new full-time job on Monday, and I know that it's going to be a lot more challenging to work on my project now. I was worried about how difficult it might be, but reading so many supportive comments today (and over the last few weeks) has really made me determined to finish this, no matter what! I really appreciate all the kind words and interesting comments that you guys leave - it's so fun to read everyone's thoughts on all these wonderful movies. It also really motivates me to write, and it definitely keeps the project fun to work on. It can be easy to want to give up at times, when this project becomes frustrating, but knowing you guys are out there reading and watching keeps me going. Not to mention I don't want to let down Ebert :)                                                                                

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I spent almost my whole day trying to track down the collector's edition Blu-ray of today's movie. Not that I needed it, mind you - but I wanted it! I kept envisioning it on the shelf at Best Buy where I remembered seeing it, but it seemed like every Best Buy I went to did not have it in stock. I tried to get help from an employee, and he came back to me, looking puzzled. "What movie were you talking about? One Fool over the what? And it has Jack who?" Hrm. Finally, I found a copy that was located farther away than I wanted to go, but at that point, it seemed horrible to have wasted so much time and not obtained the film. As I paid for it, the cashier, who was younger than me, looked at the box, and then up at me. "Wow, was this when like, Jack Nicholson was like, really young or something?" I suddenly felt so old - I couldn't remember a time didn't know that this movie was well-liked and "important". I was shocked that no one I talked to knew what it was!

Perhaps I had overestimated how famous this movie is? Maybe everyone I met today was just weird. Who knows. As it is for everyone, it's one of my favorites, and Milos Forman is such a great director. I've watched a few of his other films for this project, and have really developed a whole new appreciation for him.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nights of Cabiria

I often feel like I don't quite know what to say about Fellini films. I always like them, but I seem to be at a loss for words after I see them. Today I watched Nights of Cabiria, directed by Federico Fellini in 1957. The poster I found for it is pretty goofy, but somehow, it conveys the personality of the main character really well. However, it makes it look like way more fun of a movie than it really is - the plot is often sad, but in a good way, of course.

I sort of put off watching this movie all day because I didn't have much ability to focus. I was doing errands and making sure that everything for my project is operational (checking what movies are on instant, making sure my queues are in order, etc), something that I actually hope to write about later this weekend. There is a lot of work that goes into this project that I've never mentioned! Despite my procrastination, I really ended up enjoying this movie. I loved the character of Cabiria. She seems really unique and occasionally strange compared to the other characters, but it feels like that's just her quirky personality, and she's comfortable with it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Neighbor Totoro

I wrote a lot about how I never really watched animated films in my post about Grave of the Fireflies. I don't want to restate that, but I feel like it needs to be said, because I am really starting to become a convert. I am so happy that Ebert picks such a wide variety of films, and I'm able to see such different and new genres. I probably would have never rented today's movie on my own, but I am in awe.

Today I watched My Neighbor Totoro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1988. After I saw the whole movie, I was upset that I never saw it as a kid. I hoped that it had been directed when I was "older". Nope. The year I was born, of course. This is the kind of movie I would have loved when I was little. It is also still an incredible movie, and by far, more than any other film that tends to make people nostalgic for childhood, made me nostalgic. I loved the beautiful animation in this film, the plot, the characters, and the whole tone of it. I feel like every (American) animated film I've seen, I write about how scary it is and awful for children. Not this. This is a children's movie I would actually show to kids...and to all adults that I know.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Dinner with Andre

Another hot, humid day, and I spent pretty much all of it running errands. Bleh. I came home and was able to escape into air conditioning and less sun, and I watched My Dinner with Andre, directed by Louis Malle in 1981. I never saw this movie before, although I've always heard of it. It was so odd, but I really loved it. Ebert says it should be unwatchable, which is what I thought all the times I heard about it before. It ended up being such a surprisingly great movie.

The plot is surprisingly hard to talk about for me. On a literal, unimaginative and unobservant level, it's just two men having dinner together. Of course it's not just that, though - Ebert writes that the film is so much more than just two guys talking and eating dinner together. Do I summarize the stories that they told, since they were easy to visualize? Do I mention the interesting concepts and ideas that the talked about? Or all the awesome cinematography? There is such fascinating amount of stuff in this little, simple-sounding movie, and it made it so interesting to watch.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Music Room/Jalsaghar

I sometimes put TV on in the background when I write, and I randomly put on some really horrible show - "Finding Bigfoot", which is about a group of really stupid "professional" hunters of "bigfoots." This is the worst. Some stoned looking guy just stared into the camera and said, "I think that was a real 'squatch!". I was hoping it would be one of those so-bad-that-it's-good sort of things, but honestly it's just so bad. So, so bad. Is it a joke? Ugh.

Aside from this, I did actually watch something good today. I watched The Music Room, directed by Satyajit Ray in 1958. I was really excited to see this because I really liked the Apu Trilogy that he directed. I was pretty much just familiar with the Bollywood style of Indian films until I saw that trilogy, and it was really mind-blowing. The films were really quiet and focused on normal, everyday sort of people - sort of like French New Wave. It's a great style, and I enjoyed seeing more of it. It's really cool when you can see films like this that can change your perceptions of culture in another country, if that makes any sense. For me, they really open my mind to a style of film that runs along side of Bollywood, and a style that I really enjoy.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I have what can only be explained as 'movie-hatred-guilt' over this movie. I feel bad that I hate this movie. I know that it makes me the "most boringist and un-funnest" person to not like this. I just...don't like it. Everyone I know sort of loves this film, because most people like romantic comedies. This one is funny and charming and has tasty looking Italian food! People won awards for this movie! I just must be bitter because I eat too much kale or something. I'm not really joking. I'm actually not too sure why I dislike this film so very much.

Today's movie is the much-loved Moonstruck, directed by  Norman Jewison in 1987. It's got Cher, who won an Oscar for her performance, and the whole thing got Best Original Screenplay. I don't usually want to write about how famous a movie is, but I just wanted to show how much everyone (everyone!) likes this movie. It's clear that there are many good things about it, but I must not be getting them. Maybe I am onto something that no one else is! A new and unique criticism! Nah, I'm probably just surly.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mon Oncle

Today's movie is Mon Oncle, directed by and starring Jacques Tati. He made the film in 1958, and it was his first movie in color. The main character, Mr. Hulot, returns from a previous film that I watched earlier in the project, Mr. Hulot's Holiday. The films both have the same gentle and quiet style of comedy, and are both basically silent movies. I really like the character of Mr. Hulot. He bumbles around and causes mayhem, but he usually means well. I always find this sort of endearing.

I love this movie because it's filled with so many little moments that made me smile, and a few moments that made me laugh unnaturally loudly. As I said in my review of Holiday, I like that it's not a really high-strung screwball comedy. It's all small moments and little sight gags. It barely has any dialogue, and just relies on the visuals for humor. I like this style a lot, so I really enjoyed the film, but I could see fans of less-subtle comedy not really liking it as much as I did.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mean Streets

There was a long time that I was pretty ignorant of Martin Scorsese. I hadn't seen many of his films, and didn't really know anything about him, other than everyone seemed to like him. In a class in college, we studied him, watching his first short films (like The Big Shave) that he made in film school. We watched Italianamerican, his documentary about his family, and Who's That Knocking on My Door? Then, we watched his famous films. I saw Taxi Driver again, but in a new light. I could see his style - similar images and themes coming to the surface. Later, we saw The Departed, and I could really appreciate a big scope of his work. After that class, and after learning so much about Scorsese's style from seeing his early films, I really fell in love. It was so great to be able to watch him develop his craft. He's one of my favorite directors now, and I'm always so eager to watch any of his work.

One of his films that I haven't ever seen before is today's movie - Mean Streets, which he directed in 1973. It was pretty much the first film that he did on his own and outside of film school. I found an interview with Scorsese, where the inspiration for Mean Streets is mentioned. "Scorsese remembers that when he made his first feature in Hollywood in 1972 for the producer Roger Corman, the Depression-era exploitation film Boxcar Bertha, [Nick] Cassavetes told him, 'You’ve just spent a year of your life making a piece of shit.’ The criticism reinforced Scorsese’s conviction to return to what he knew. The result was Mean Streets, made in 1973," (from here). The best filmmakers simply write and direct what they know, and Scorsese, and Mean Streets, is a fantastic example of this.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Man Who Laughs

Man, it's really humid and gross out right now. I didn't realize this until just a few moments ago, since I was down in my nice, icy-cold basement watching today's movie. I spent most of my day running errands, and everywhere I had to go was over 40 minutes away! Lots of driving, but that meant lots of loud music on the expressway. :)

Today I watched The Man Who Laughs, directed by Paul Leni in 1928. It's a silent movie, but made during the time when sound was just coming into play. It has some little crowd noises and such, but it is pretty typical otherwise. My mom came down during the end of the movie, and at first decided that it looked boring, but ended up sitting and watching the last 20 minutes or so with me. I really like silent film, so I was happy that she gave it a chance -  and when it was over, she said she really enjoyed the parts that she saw.  I definitely think that more people should at least give silent movies a chance, they can be surprisingly fun to watch (well, for me, at least). 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Manchurian Candidate

Wow, today was really exciting! Ebert found my blog and actually tweeted a link to it, saying that I write "so well"! I actually felt a little faint, haha! I've always been really inspired by his talent and it means a lot to me that he said that. I actually got the idea to do this project after I went to a local book signing to meet Roger Ebert. He signed the book for my boyfriend with "Start from the top!" and later, thinking about it, I decided, hey, maybe I'd do the same thing!
I was so happy to be able to meet him that night! I grew up reading his reviews, and he always seemed to be the deciding factor on what movies I would head out to see that weekend. I really love his writing, as well - he is so eloquent and reviews his movies in context (as in, he might see a summer action movie and like it for what it is). He seems like he gives things a fair chance, and I really envy his job! He really motivated me to think more carefully about movies, and for sure inspired me to try my hand at film classes and some screenwriting in college.
I was so excited to meet him at the signing, and I loved that he came up and personally greeted each one of his fans. :) Everyone was talking in the line about how all the different ways that he impacted their lives. I was so stoked to have him sign my books and shake my hand - imagine how giddy I was today when he said he liked my writing!

I could probably keep running on about this, but I should talk about today's movie, at some point. It's just been really exciting for me today! So, aside from all of that craziness, today I watched The Manchurian Candidate, directed in 1962 by John Frankenheimer. I actually never saw this film before, nor did I ever see the 2004 version, so I went into this movie with no prior knowledge whatsoever. I came away really impressed, and really in love with this film.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Another three hour movie that I ended up being at a loss for words about. I really liked it, and like many films, I understand why it is masterful, but I just don't know what to say about it!

Today I watched The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1943. The plot covers a huge amount of time and it does so in a great way, and works in a bit of humor as well. I mostly liked the message - an older general looking back on his life, mourning the days when soldiers had a code of honor. The movie also shows us that older people know way more than young people, and are a great source of wisdom. I think the message is good enough that I think the hours I spent watching this movie were worth it, even if I felt a little underwhelmed at the end of it.

The Leopard

Sorry I didn't post about this sooner! I did complain on Twitter, haha!

Anyway, I decided to skip last night's movie - I'm going to put it at the bottom of my list and watch it after I finish the third book, when I can rent the correct version.

Here's what happened - I saw the movie was streaming on Netflix, so I didn't try to get a DVD or anything. I should have checked what version was on Netflix, though. The only version they were streaming was an English-dubbed version, with 40 minutes cut out of it. Ebert actually complains about this version in his book, using it as an example of why people don't like the movie. It seemed like I would really be missing a lot, and I didn't want to just be like, "I hated this movie but I watched the wrong version", so I thought it would be better to just skip it. Sorry guys, but you can read about it in a few months!
Nikita is lazy.