Monday, November 24, 2014

There Will Be a Pause in Posting, and I Have a Request

Hopefully it will be a short pause.  I was going to write my next review tonight, but when I got home I found my house had been broken into.  No one was harmed, but damage was done.  I’m going to have to deal with this first.  Then when you throw in the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday it may be a week or more before I post again.

Oh, and there is also what I believe to be transmission problems with my vehicle that I was trying to get the dealer to look at before Thanksgiving.

And it’s only Monday.

So now that I’ve depressed some/all of you, how is your week going so far?  J

I suppose now that I’ve banked a little sympathy I might as well go ahead and see if anyone can help me with something movie related.

Heimat, the 1984 German TV Miniseries, has just gone to Unavailable status on Netflix.  The first disk had been in Very Long Wait status ever since I added it to my queue a year ago.  The other five disks were all readily available, but Netflix has now made all six Unavailable.  Maybe I should have watched disks 2-6 when I had the chance.

Amazon is selling Heimat…for $369.95.  That’s somewhere north of ridiculous.  And that only gets you what reviewers say is a crappy DVD transfer that apparently came from a video cassette.  The price also means Netflix will not be replenishing their inventory of it anytime soon.  Finally, I can’t find it at any of the online sites I’ve used to find other movies Netflix does not offer.

Heimat is on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list, the New York Times Top 1,000 Movies list, the Empire Top 500 movies list, and the Empire Top 100 World Films list.  I’ve been working on the TSPDT list and I’m down to less than 100.  I had located all the remaining ones, but Heimat has now become an issue.

Does anyone know of a place to find Heimat?  If you are uncomfortable leaving a comment here you can email me at with the particulars.

Please note that there were follow-up TV miniseries Heimat 2 (1992) and Heimat 3 (2004).  It’s the original from 1984 I’m looking for.  Its full title is Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (aka Heimat: Eine Deutsche Chronik).

I hope all the folks in the U.S. have a Happy Thanksgiving.  And for the folks outside the U.S., I hope you have a better than usual Thursday.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Movie – Wuthering Heights (1939)

Wuthering Heights is based on the 1857 novel of the same name by Emily Bronte.  I have not read the book, so I cannot compare the two.  I checked and apparently this film adapts only the first half of the book.  It concentrates on Heathcliff and Cathy and removes all plot related to the second generation that followed them.  I knew none of this when I saw it so I had no expectations.  I was able to go into it not knowing what was supposed to happen and I feel that allowed me to enjoy the film more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie – The Rules of the Game (1939)

The Rules of the Game, despite being so acclaimed by critics, actually has a pretty simple premise that has been copied many times – show a group of people, many of them unlikable, from different social strata interacting with each other.  Off the top of my head other films like this one include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Big Chill (1983), The Decline of the American Empire (1986), and Gosford Park (2001).  What puts The Rules of the Game at or near the top of so many film critics’ “Best of…” lists?  I have a couple of theories that I will share on that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Movie – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based on the 1831 Victor Hugo novel of the same (translated) name.  I have not read it, but it’s my understanding that this film adaptation differs from it in several ways, including the ending.  If that is the case then perhaps it is for the better because this film has one of the all time great closing lines in film history.  I will not spoil it here, but anyone who has seen the film knows what I am referring to.  And if you saw it and was unmoved then you must be made of stone yourself.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Movie and Book – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What can be written about The Wizard of Oz that hasn’t already been said in any of the many, many extras and stories and documentaries on the making and history of it?  Those have covered everything from the happy (impact on children) to the sordid (Garland being on drugs to make it through the long working hours) to the ridiculous (Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon supposedly being written to sync up with it – it wasn’t).  There’s no way to top those, especially the Pink Floyd one, but I can write about the personal aspects of it.  I can also write about the far less well known book upon which it was based.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Great Year for Movies - 1939

Scarecrow: I haven't got a brain...only straw.
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
Scarecrow: I don't know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.

                                                                       --- The Wizard of Oz

If you stop to think about it, the movies that came out in 1939 were released 75 years ago.  Many of them have been forgotten, some justly, some unjustly.  And some of them are among the all time classics in movie history.

In honor of their 75th anniversary I am going to be recommending my five top rated films from 1939, along with the ones from the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list that received three stars from me.

Why am I doing this category?  Why this year?  It is because I consider 1939 to be the best year for movies in all of cinema history.  1994 would be second, in case you are curious.  I discussed that year here.  By the way, 1954 and 1974 are also standouts. 

I won’t be reviewing them now, but so that these good films at least get some notice, here are other 1939 movies that I would recommend:  The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Young Mr. Lincoln, and Of Mice and Men

Here are the 1939 movies I have seen that I would not recommend: Destry Rides Again, Gunga Din, and Babes in Arms.  All are 2.5 star movies, which means they were okay, but not good enough to recommend.

There are some notable 1939 movies that I have not seen.  If you have a particular favorite among them, please let me know:  The Four Feathers, The Women, Son of Frankenstein, Gulliver’s Travels, The Roaring Twenties, Buck Rogers, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, Beau Geste, Drums Along the Mohawk, and Midnight.  I have not seen Love Affair yet, but since it is a Best Picture nominee I will watch it eventually.  I am pretty sure I have seen both The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but I am not positive.

As I post the reviews, I will come back and add links here for those posts:

1.  Mr.Smith Goes to Washington – (posted May 6, 2012)

Gone with the Wind
Only Angels Have Wings
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum

On to the reviews…

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Movie Status

After watching only 8 movies last month I got back into the swing of things and watched 34 new movies in October, along with a re-watch of the sixth season of the TV show Castle. 

With various goals that I knew were achievable I made good progress on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list.  I’ve now seen all of the 600 highest ranked films on the list.  I finally managed to get almost all of the Netflix Very Long Wait entries, either from them or from other sources.  This meant I was able to complete all entries that are more than three hours long, with the exception of the very longest – Heimat.  I still can’t get the first disk of it from Netflix.  Without it there’s no point in getting the other five disks which are all readily available.  Counting Heimat, I have only 5 entries longer than 2.5 hours left, but I have to rely on Netflix for all of them.