Monday, April 09, 2007

2007: The Year of Watching DVDs, Part XII: Everything Gets Three Keatons Except Oz

Hello and welcome to the twelfth weekly installment of the SICKENINGLY popular SUPERBLOG!! feature in which we watch me watching all the movies on the IMDb top 250 list (actually I'm using the less frequently updated Twofifty list, at least for now) plus a lot of other movies. All installments.

La Haine / Hate (1995)
This was in French and I watched it with English-language subs and the names Asterix and Obelix had been changed to Snoopy and Charlie Brown! Goddamn uncultured Americans. I know a lot of you reading this are American so as punishment I won't tell you anything about this film. Ha! Serves you right.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Wes Andersonish road trip. Has all the ingredients to be a great movie (fun characters, for one thing) but somehow it doesn't add up to much more than the sum of its parts. Which still isn't bad, I recommend this to anyone who likes light dark comedies with a touch of existential angst.

The Lost Weekend (1945)
Alcoholism. Billy Wilder. It's good.

Saboteur (1942)
Hitchcock was an anagram for cock-itch. Did you know?

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Henry Fonda is a nice guy at heart in this depressing Western. But will he do the right thing? Will he, fuck. I think this story is a parable about Nazi Germany, so as such I'd give it a WW2 Alert!

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
The first 17 minutes were okay, but then John Wayne entered the picture and I spontaneously vomited. God, how I hate him. Thankfully, this is Jimmy Stewart's movie, and he's a thousand times more likable than his co-star. Kind of stupid, kind of nice.

Du rififi chez les hommes / Rififi (1955)
French fuckers crack a safe. Seems to be okay but it's in French so it can't be. Apparently, a remake is in the works, starring Al Pacino.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
WW2 Alert! Three veterans return home. One has hooks for hands and can't act very well. One is utterly a banker. One is a soda jerk. Together the threesome (who becomes known throughout the universe as "The 3errible 3") fight immorality among the criminal underclass. Some of the information in the preceding sentence was not true. This MOVING PICTURE would have been 25% better if it were 45% shorter but, as it stands, it is still good enough to warrant A TRIUMVIRATE of Michael Keaton heads. Jolly good show, Best Years of Our Lives!

Doctor Zhivago (1965)
WW1 alert! Also: Revolutionary Russia, and more. All movies with "Dr." in the title are good. Cases in point: Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Giggles, Dr. Snuggles, Mulholland Dr., Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (all versions), Dr. Snuggles, and so on. David Lean, I disliked you at first but now I'm starting to come around.

To Have and Have Not (1944)
WW2 Alert! Humphrey Bogart plays "Steve", a guy who walks around with a gay little captain's hat on, which makes him look gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Lauren Bacall seems a little bit transsexual, at least when she sings. Not that there's anything wrong with that. At the time of filming, Bacall was 16 years old and Bogie was 72. Other characters: an old alcoholic, some Frenchmen.

Inherit the Wind (1960)
Godliness Not Gorillas! Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly fight a backwater creationist town in an epic trial of of reason versus unreason! Based on a true story ("The Monkey Trial"), but apparently a lot of things have been changed and it should probably be viewed as a parable about McCarthyism. I don't think the story works very well if you take it literally. Tracy (the attorney) supports the teaching of evolution in school not on the grounds that it makes the most scientific sense, but rather that minority viewpoints are entitled to free expression. So I guess today he'd be on the side of the creationists. Stupid Tracy, I'll kill you with my Bible.

Chinjeolhan geumjassi / Lady Vengeance (2005)
Third part of Korean Chan-wook Park's "revenge trilogy". It's stylish, and parts of it are fun to look at (though one part in particular - involving children - is deeply unpleasant), but it doesn't add up to much of anything at all. Like Oldboy ("reviewed" [not really] on SUPERBLOG!! a couple of months ago), it's unbelievable and kind of stupid. And the ultimate revenge against the child killer is extremely tame. I'd give this 2 Michael Keatons to distinguish it from all the truly GREAT movies I've given a 3 recently. But no, I said at the onset that everything except Oz gets a 3 this week. So:

Solyaris / Solaris (1972)
Russian classic about first contact with aliens. A tad overlong (like virtually all movies on the 250 list). Nice music.

Manhattan (1979)
Woody Allen is a bastard in this film.

Oz Season One (8 eps) (1997)
Easily one of my ten favorite television series of all time. I like to think that it influenced the great HBO shows that came after it, like The Sopranos, but what do I know? Basically, it's Poetry in Prison. Sure, there are some weird-ass moments, and the storytelling is idiosyncratic. Writer Tom Fontana isn't much for foreshadowing - possibly because he's making it up as he goes along. For instance, one character who seems mentally healthy in his first appearance has developed late-stage Alzheimer's the very next time we see him. I don't have a medical degree but that strikes me as implausible. But this is the price we have to pay to enjoy the simple beauty of one character wreaking vengeance by taking a shit in another character's mouth (I won't spoil it by naming names). There are plenty of great characters, and, like Lost at it's best, few of them feel "safe". An intelligent and unique show.

Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
WW2 alert! Cute and semi-touching tale of Japanese boy having to take care of his little sister after their mother dies during an air raid

Romeo + Juliet (1996) (repeat)
Baz Luhrmann's MTV version starring Leo and Claire Danes.

The Lion King (1994)
Beautiful but very slight. Synchronicity: Timon says "What's in a name?" - just like Claire Danes! What are the odds?

Twofifty update: 238

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