Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No Posts for a Little While

“Did I fall asleep?”
“For a little while.”
– Standard exchange on Dollhouse

Other than my end of month movie status I probably won’t be posting anything for a little while.  I’m at crunch time with my Genealogy book.  I’ve got all the information in it and it’s formatted for 6 by 9 printing, but I still have to build the Index and it’s going to be a bear.  I’ve got to mark thousands of names for it.  I have to get that done before I can know how many pages I will have so that I can then apply for a Library of Congress number.  And I need that for the copyright page before I can submit the manuscript for printing.

How long is “a little while”?  I don’t know.  I may get so worn out from indexing that I write a review just for a change of pace, but right now I can’t justify the time for it.  I’ve got a hard deadline to have copies of the book available for a family association meeting in August.

To leave you with a movie quote: “I’ll be back.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Movie – Mississippi Masala (1991)

Mississippi Masala was made at a time after Denzel Washington had hit it big with 1989’s Glory, but while he still sometimes did a smaller film like The Mighty Quinn (1989), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), and this one.  This was a lucky casting break for director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) because her financial backers had pulled out after Ben Kingsley declined a role in the film.  Once Washington signed on he was a big enough name to attract other backers and get the movie made.  This was a good thing because the film is now an interesting diversion from Washington’s better known big box office/action hero persona.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie – Purple Rain (1984)

To a lot of people nowadays the 1984 Prince film Purple Rain is probably seen as a kind of kooky snapshot of a very specific time in music – the same way some people think of Saturday Night Fever (1977).  What many of those same people tend to forget, though, is all the very popular songs that came out of both films – songs that will still get people humming, tapping, or dancing along to them.  At the time the film Purple Rain came out it was a phenomenon.  It pretty much took over popular culture for a while with both the movie and the music dominating the airwaves, and the videos dominating this new channel calling itself Music Television, or Mtv for short.  And while Prince had had a few hits prior to this, the combination of this film and the soundtrack shot him into the stratosphere.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Movie – Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Despite the year and the title, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul has nothing to do with Muhammad Ali (in case you were wondering.)  It’s a German film from writer/director/producer Rainer Werner Fassbinder.  At the center of the movie is a marriage between a 60ish white German woman and a 30-something Arab immigrant.  The two meet by chance, get married almost by accident, and then receive the collective condemnation from almost everybody they know.  This film avoids most of the clichés about this either bringing them together or driving them apart.  Instead, what has a bigger impact on their relationship and marriage is that both seem lost at where they are at this point in their lives and neither really seems to know what they want.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Movie – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner features three screen legends – Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier.  As a result, the fourth main member of the cast – Katherine Houghton – ends up getting overshadowed.  This film earned 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Actress (Hepburn) and Best Original Screenplay.  This was Spencer Tracy’s very last movie and he received a nomination for Best Actor.  He died just 17 days after filming was complete.  He does a great job in the movie of playing a man who has just come face to face with his own hypocrisy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Movie Pet Peeves

Note: this post is inspired by Alex Withrow’s April 5, 2013 post Top 10 Movie Pet Peeves and his April 1, 2014 post Top 10 Movie Clichés (that I’ve never experienced in real life) – both at his site And So It Begins…  Check out his site when you get a chance.  Don’t think from these two posts that all he does is poke fun at movies.  Far from it.  There are a number of types of analysis he does that you will probably find interesting.

In my comment on his first post I tossed out a bunch of other things that are laughingly ridiculous and Alex responded that it was obvious that we could make a whole other list just on Movie Sex Scene Pet Peeves.  I made a mental note to someday write out in a little more detail some of the things I included in that comment.  Don’t worry, this post is about more than just sex; there’s also discussions of nudity in it.  (Kidding…not about the nudity, but there will be more than just sexually related topics.)  And I’m not going to just jump right into the sex.  First, a little foreplay.

Throwing Away/Leaving Behind Something Very Valuable – note: there is a spoiler in this section for Titanic (1997) if you’ve somehow managed to never see this film.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Movie Status

I saw 13 new movies in the month of April.  I didn’t start or complete any new lists.

I am semi-actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die lists, and They Shoot Pictures Don’t They.  All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them.  They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.

Here are the 13 new movies I saw in April.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

Oscar Nominees (0):

101 Genre (0):

TSPDT (3): A Short Film About Killing (1988), A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923), Port of Shadows (1938)

Other Movies (10): Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), An Amish Murder (2013), Escape Plan (2013), 30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo (2012), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013), The Cheat (1915), 30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014), A Case of You (2013), Admission (2013), Cloud Atlas (2012)

I saw so few films this month that I will just write a bit about each.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Shakycam invades the Marvel Universe.  Not as good a film as the first one, but this will be an important bridge to the movies that follow.  3 stars

An Amish Murder (2013) – This was a TV movie I happened upon just as it was starting.  It did a decent job with the story.  Overall, it was okay.  2.5 stars

Escape Plan (2013) – Schwarzenegger and Stallone finally do their own film together.  There were some good memories for a guy like me who saw just about every 80s action movie when they came to video.  Ultimately, the spark just wasn’t there.  This was an okay film.  2.5 stars

30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo (2012) – Anyone not old enough to remember Bo Jackson should see this documentary.  He was the best natural athlete of the last several decades and this shows you why.  3 stars

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) – The first one was entertaining enough, but this one falls a little flat.  Almost all the same characters are back, so if you have a favorite you’ll probably see them.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

A Short Film About Killing (1988) – More a “director’s cut” of the fifth Decalog episode than a real movie.  It has about 20 minutes extra, mostly spent with the lawyer, added to the TV episode.  While it adds more depth to that character I’m not sure that’s enough to recommend that anyone who has already seen the Decalog episode seek this movie out.  3 stars

The Cheat (1915) – D.W. Griffith film that plays on the stereotype of the Asian man out to prey on white women.  It’s daring for it’s time, though.  2.5 stars

30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014) – I was sick of hearing about the whole Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding thing not long after it happened, so I hadn’t intended to watch this 20 year retrospective documentary.  I ended up being surprised that it kept my interest.  Much like people have forgotten that Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders of her parents, so too do people forget that the only thing Harding was ever found guilty of was finding out after the fact that her husband planned the attack and then not telling the police immediately.  3 stars

A Case of You (2013) – Independent film that treads much of the same familiar territory as big movie studio romantic comedies.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

Admission (2013) – This turned out to be a lot more serious than I expected.  The trailer had made it look like a rom-com.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

Cloud Atlas (2012) – A film that transcends space, time, race, and even gender.  Six stories that on the surface are unconnected in fact turn out to be intimately intertwined in many different ways.  Making it even better is that each of the six stories is presented in the style of other films in similar settings, from Moby Dick, to Merchant/Ivory films, to 70s political thrillers (with a dash of Shaft), to comedic old folks, to Logan's Run, to The Road Warrior.  It would have made my Top 10 of 2012 had I seen it before posting the list.  4.5 stars

A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) – When is a Charlie Chaplin film not a Charlie Chaplin film?  When he puts a disclaimer at the front that he will not appear and that he instead wants to do a serious drama.  This is more melodrama than drama, but still effective enough.  3 stars

Port of Shadows (1938) – I was perhaps expecting too much from the team up of Marcel Carne (Children of Paradise) and Jean Gabin (Grand Illusion, La Bete Humaine), but this was still a decent movie.  3 stars