All That Jazz

•September 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

all-that-jazzMovie #86 released in1979 added to the Registry in 2001

The Plot: A Broadway choreography, film director, drug addict, alcoholic, and dad tries to do it all and when it finally affects his health, his family tries to save him.

My Opinion: Bob Fosse is a genius. Hands down, you cannot argue his impact on dance and Broadway. So getting to watch some of his amazing choreography in this film was amazing.

I just recently left show business to pursue a different career choice, so this film made me miss it! Though it also reminded me all the difficulties that can go along with it as well.

It was an engaging movie and Joe Gideon is a likable character. He’s a great dad and you feel for him. He’s taking on so much responsibility and then using drugs and alcohol to cope. I felt it wasn’t a bad thing, or portrayed that way, just him doing what he has to do to get through everything.

It was a good movie to watch right now at this time. I do have a tendency to want to do it all, like the main character, but in the movie, you see the toll it takes on your health when you do that (and well, supplement it with things bad for your health). It was enlightening, but then again it makes me think I can push myself harder as well. We’ll see how that goes.

Good story, good dancing, good acting. High recommend this movie.

The Graduate

•September 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

the-graduate-movie-posterMovie #85 released in 1967 added to the Registry in 1996

The Plot: A recent college graduate, Ben, moves back home and ends up having an affair with his dad’s business partner’s wife while falling in love with her daughter.

My Opinion: Right away the era is set when you hear Simon and Garfunkel singing “The Sound of Silence” while Ben rides a moving walkway at the airport. Overall, I loved that Simon and Garfunkel did the entire sound track. It added such a nice touch to the film and the music became really important, which wasn’t common in that time, even now it’s not too common.

I had watched The Graduate in high school for a class and liked it then. I was excited to watch it again. I think I appreciated it more after graduating college and feeling similar to Ben, being lost and unsure what to do with life. You can see how he could get into this situation, more than you can in high school.

My two favorite things about this film: the story I heard that Simon and Garfunkel only wrote the verse to Mrs. Robinson for the movie, but after the success of it finished the popular song today.

The ending of the film (SPOILER). Well first, that Love Actually references the church scene (which I haven’t appreciated before this) and then also Ben and Elaine sitting on the bus driving away. They’re happy at first and then it looks like they both go into thinking about if what they just did was the best idea. That isn’t always shown in film and glad Mike Nichols included it right after the happiness. It makes for a much more interesting ending and up to your interpretation, I believe at least.

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird

•September 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

indexMovie #84 released in1962 added to the Registry in 1995

The Plot: The kids of Atticus Finch begin to learn more about their father and prejudice when he defends a black man against false rape charges in the Depression -era South.

My Opinion: I LOVE this book! I picked it up at the airport when going to Mississippi figuring I wanted a southern themed book and fell in love with reading it. I was excited to finally watch the movie of it. Movie was very good too, didn’t let down the book I think. It’s been about a year since I read the book, so it’s not completely fresh in my mind, but it seems to hold true.

Mary Badham was a great Scout. She was adorable and wasn’t annoying, like I feel some child actors could make her go that way. I wasn’t surprised to learn she got a best support actress nomination. Gregory Peck was also amazing, I wish I had his version of Atticus for a father! Another trivia fact I learned is James Stewart was up for the role as well (and you know how much I love him!) but thought the script was too progressive and turned it down. Point down for James Stewart. Plus, I think Gregory Peck was better suited for the more seriousness of Atticus.

While I love the beginning of the book, the meat of the story is at the courtroom. I’m not sure how big “courtroom dramas” were back then, but we know they are extremely popular now. Maybe this was one of the first? Just need some Law and Order “dun duns” in there.

I love Boo Radley’s appearance as well. It was creepy at first, but then turned out great, much like the book. It’s something you wait the whole movie to see him and Robert Duvall pulled him off perfectly. I don’t think he would have if he didn’t put the effort into getting that pale and dying his hair for the role.

Read the book, watch the movie. This story I think is important to our American culture and we can always learn from our past.

The Phantom of the Opera

•September 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

phantom-of-the-opera-1925-posterMovie #83 released in 1925 added to the Registry in 1998

The Plot: After new owners take over an opera house, the ghost of the opera house threatens them if they don’t star his protege, who ends up missing after a performance.

My Opinion: Ever since I’ve started the task of watching the National Film Registry, I have decided I don’t hate silent films. It seems like many people have that bias now. This was a pretty good one. The sets were amazing for the time period, especially after I watched Fall of the House of Usher recently. It’s apparently still exists today, which is impressive.

I love the musical of Phantom of the Opera, and I was surprised to see how true it stayed to this story. I was sure that many plot points would have changed to make it a better musical, but not really. The only real difference is the mask, which is such a key costume in the story. It was creepier that he used a doll’s face as a mask in this film, but I do love the classic half face mask I know and love. Also the Phantom was much “uglier” than portrayed in the musical. It makes him less sympathetic, which was a key difference. I didn’t feel bad for him at the end of the film like I have felt bad for him at the end of the musical.

It was great they used technicolor for a few scenes, especially the masquerade. It made the Phantom stick out so much in his red costume. I loved it! And shocked to see that technology existed back then as well.

It’s a good silent film, and if you love Phantom of the Opera, watch this version!

 

Dr. Strangelove

•September 16, 2014 • 1 Comment

Drstrangelove1sheet-Movie #82 released in 1964 added to the Registry in 1989.

The Plot: When someone issues an attack order that may lead to nuclear holocaust, a room full of politicians and army leaders have to stop.

My Opinion: This is my third Kubrick film, so I kind of new what to expect, but again between The Shining and 2001, all three have very different stories and settings while being cohesive. I never knew exactly what this film was about, from the long title “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” I vaguely thought war. If I knew it had a bad ass plane in it, I probably would’ve watched it sooner. I also didn’t know it was a comedy before I started playing it and the genre read “comedy.” It’s comedy isĀ  subtle and I didn’t always know if it was being serious or humorous, which is probably one of the great things about this film because it was addressing a real issue at the time. I learned this brought about real policy changes to stop from what happens in the movie from actually happening. That’s pretty cool a comedy affecting change like that, can’t say that for many comedic movies today.

It took me some trivia reading afterwards to realize that Peter Sellers played three roles! I couldn’t tell it was the same person, which I always love, and to me marks a good actor. Hence, why I love Gary Oldman so much. I also read that George C. Scott thought at the time he was pushed into overacting by Kubrick, but ended up liking his performance and it’s considered one of his best. I agree with that, if he wasn’t pushed into going that route, I don’t think the film would’ve been so good.

The ending to me was alright. I responded “Is that it?” Oh well, I don’t see how else it could’ve ended. I liked the story of how it ended, maybe not the execution in the film. Like many of these movies though, worth a watch!

How the West was Won

•September 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

movieposterMovie #81 released in 1962 added to the Registry 1997.

The Plot: A movie about a family over a few decades during the westward expansion of the United States broken into 5 segments.

My Opinion: Everything in this movie was just a bit too long. The movie itself was a bit too long, all the action scenes were a bit too long, talking scenes sometimes were a bit too long (or just really short). I think I could have done with not as many stories in this movie for sure. I enjoyed Debbie Reynolds’ character and also James Stewart story, so 3 segments would have been better.

This was also my first John Wayne film! He wasn’t really in it too much and I am looking forward to watching a movie he’s the star in. I was wondering if I would recognize him, having never seen a movie of his, I knew his voice right off the bat though!

I think this movie is like the first “Love Actually” or “He’s Just Not That into You” where they put a whole bunch of stars together and hope it works out. Love Actually does, He’s Just Not That into You didn’t and this is somewhat in the middle.

The thing I learned from this movie, the west was NOT a fun place. I do not envy the pioneers! It was an interesting film to watch and also I read up later it was done in Cinerama, they had three projectors at once going to make a widescreen view. That’s fascinating and wish I knew more about that before watching to understand how this movie affected cinematography. I think that in itself makes this an important film to American culture.

Vertigo

•September 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Vertigomovie_restorationMovie #80 released in 1958 added to the Registry in 1989.

The Plot: A retired San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (From IMDB)

My Opinion: I enjoyed this film. I’ve liked Alfred Hitchcock and I did watch it because of my new found love for James Stewart. I read some background on this film, that it didn’t do well in theaters at first, but now is looked upon as Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece. It was a good film and I understand they created a new shot with technology of the time. It was the shot to create the vertigo sensation for James Stewart’s character. Apparently, they made miniature sets and laid them on their sides to create these shots. I find that fascinating.

Anyway, back to the actual movie. It did have a good twist which I didn’t see coming! I won’t spoil it, but it’s hard to trick me a lot of times. James Stewart was good, but it was his older self which I hadn’t seen yet. Maybe he was a bit too old for the part, but he’s still very handsome! Kim Novak was good too and her duel character was convincing to me.

I didn’t quite understand Midge’s character and her part in the movie. She was just kind of there as the “unattractive best friend” but then you never see her again after she fails to attract Scotty again. What’s the point? She could have really been cut. The one useful trip she takes with Scotty, he probably could have found the guy by himself. Oh well, the weakest part of the film.

Anyway, great Hitchcock film. I haven’t seen enough to know if it’s his masterpiece but fascinating story!

The Fall of the House of Usher

•August 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

vlcsnap-2013-02-13-07h46m49s31Movie #79 released in 1928 added to the Registry in 2000

The Plot: Based off Edgar Allan Poe’s short story by the same name, about twins living in a cursed house.

My Opinion: So I guess this is one of the early avant-garde films? I have to say, I’m not a fan. I just don’t get it. It’s weird. I love Edgar Allan Poe and this story, so that’s not where my issue is coming from with this film. It was shot in prism style, which can have some cool effects. Part of it reminded me of the mirror scene from Enter the Dragon! But did it convey the story well? I don’t think so.

It’s only 13 minutes. It’s interesting to see what avant-garde was back then. Do I have to like it? No. Should I appreciate it for its contribution to film history? I should. Do I? Eh.

The set did kind of remind me of a minimalist Beetlejuice. Maybe Tim Burton’s set designer has watched this!

I just don’t have much to say about this film. You can watch it here yourself.

 

 

Enter the Dragon

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

enter-the-dragonMovie #78 released in 1973 added to the Registry in 2004.

The Plot: A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover.

My Opinion: Something was off when I first started watching this movie. What was it? It had to do with the sound, it didn’t sound natural. I quickly realized that the entire film is dubbed. Was it just my copy? Is this movie actually in a different language and dubbed in English? That doesn’t make sense because it had to be an American film to be on the Registry. I looked up and saw yes, the entire film was dubbed. No idea why, just the way it is.

After I got past that point I did enjoy the film. Bruce Lee is pretty cool, and I also read this is one of two films he uses his natural voice. I have to admit I haven’t watched any Bruce Lee movies up until now, so I have no idea what other voice he uses. I also did have to get past the cheesy hitting sound effects that sound nothing like an actual kick or punch, it’s a different time.

Jackie Chan was also uncredited in this film. I say that because when I saw the character Williams come in, I was wondering if this was a film Rush Hour might have been parodying, but it wasn’t really, just a scene.

The Hall of Mirrors scene was a pretty interesting climax. Up until this point we’ve seen some pretty kick ass martial arts throughout the film. It’s the climax and you’re just waiting for it to be this epic battle. It’s not is the twist! Yes, he has a sweet move or two but it’s the suspense that gets you and you don’t know really where Han is. I enjoyed it and it was unexpected in a way.

I enjoyed this film and glad it was my first Bruce Lee movie, can’t wait to watch the next one!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Smith_goesMovie #77 released in 1939 added to the Registry in 9189.

The Plot: A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn’t back down.

My Opinion: I didn’t know James Stewart was in this at first. I only knew him from It’s a Wonderful Life, which is one of my favorite movies. When I first saw him in this movie I began to wonder why I hadn’t watched it earlier! Even though this movie is over 70 years old, the corruption that exists in our government today is very similar to what Mr. Smith faces in his Washington journey. It just shows how little our government has evolved in that amount of time, which is just sad, but kind of a fact of life the way I look at it. Mr. Smith doesn’t settle like I do, he tries to fight for what he believes in and get through the corruption to achieve something great. It’s very inspiring actually.

His character is very similar to his in It’s a Wonderful Life, a good hard-working honest middle-class man who has to fight corrupt powers. He plays it very well. I did some more research on James Stewart after watching this and found out he fought in WWII as a fighter pilot. He didn’t want to be used just for press because he was a movie star but insisted to see battle. He seemed very badass and that only made me appreciate him more. I also learned he’s in a lot of other movies on the Registry! No doubt I’ll be watching those shortly.

Back to the movie, it was pretty typical plot for the time. The little guy winning over the big guy. It’s a heart warming movie and just a good watch. I think Wendy Davis maybe took some pointers from Mr. Smith! Again, just how applicable this movie still is after all these years. Watch it!