4 films for june

May 31, 2008

a few films that we’ve scheduled for our summer film series and a few that i lobbied to get in but don’t seem like they’re going to make the cut (but i still want to see them).

week of june 2

on the waterfront by elia kazan

gotta love early brando

week of june 9

sullivan’s travels by preston sturges

a film prof i had last semester really loved this one, got me excited.

week of june 16

army of shadows by jean-pierre melville

i’ve heard nothing but good things.

week of june 23

all about eve by joseph makiewicz

in a quest to see all the best picture winners.


quick stop movie hits

May 31, 2008

my recent viewing activity….

  • indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull – wait for dvd unless you really want to see something in theaters.

harrison ford’s a lot better than i thought he’d be, but the story is just garbage. if you’ve heard reviews you’ve probably heard people’s problems with the script, so i won’t bore you with more just know that i agree.

  • iron man – see if you haven’t already

worth checking out mostly for robert downey jr. he’s just a lot of fun. the film looses a lot of steam by the end but worth checking out if only for rdj.

  • the chronicles of narnia: prince caspian – skip it

just really quite boring. i remember really liking the books in 4th or 5th grade or whenever i read them, but the films just don’t hold up. i also pictured the protagonists as much older. it looks like 14 yr old kids saving the world, and that’s just not for me.

  • superbad – funnier on 2nd viewing

i remembered being underwhelmed by most of this one, especially seth rogan and bill hader as the two cops. 2nd viewing i was laughing at everything they did. and i find seth rogan funnier than ever. can’t wait for his next two.

  • strangers on a train – one of hitchcock’s best

we watched this for the first installment of our summer film series. one of my favorite hitchcock films. robert walker is brilliant. everyone else seemed to really like it as well.

  • 30-40 minutes of citizen kane on tcm ummm yeah

i watched the first 30-40 minutes. it was good.


editing note –

as i was double checking robert walker’s name i came across this…..


it’s a little scary to think this might actually happen.

these guys are supposed to be college graduates? they look like they’re in their mid 30s, and one looks like he’s in his mid 40s. i know that in the movie world you use actors who are actually older than the people they play in the movie, but c’mon. no way are these guys just graduated from college. that was my initial problem with the film.

then came the entire premise of the film. a group of recent college graduates, don’t know what to do with their lives so they live on campus and take classes and hook up with undergrads (or in some cases underundergrads). what am i supposed to do with that? am i supposed to relate? i’m about a year away from being and that same situation and i don’t bitch about the fact that i have to start working for a living. am i supposed to laugh at it? i didn’t find any of it particularly funny (except maybe that scene referenced in the picture).

i think i just find that whole state of mind false. that let’s discuss the enlightenment because we’re intellectual sate of mind. i’m actually looking forward to getting away from that entire scene. away from the pretentiousness of college students debating the career of kant and burke (i actually got my fill of that in high school).

and while the characters in beautiful girls felt real, these felt completely false. their problems, the way they talk, the way they move. all if it felt made up, and if it was real they’re the type of people i don’t want to be around.

so my big question is what is the point? what’s the point of sitting around and talking about school and not moving on with your life and what’s the point of this movie?

i’m given the assignment of watching both beautiful girls and kicking and screaming (the non-ferrell version) and picking which one i find more interesting, or better, or just picking one rather. it’s all for the sake of the filmspotting message boards 1990’s us bracket thingy. so i get my matchup from fellow cinecrack addict pixote and am immediately happy. i’ve always wanted to catch up with baumbach’s first film and i always wanted to see beautiful girls, or so i thought. i get the only copy of the film the local library has (one 10 year old vhs) and look at the cover. matt dillon? timothy hutton? michael rapaport? where’s michael douglas! this isn’t what i signed up for! see in my head i had mistaken beautiful girls with wonder boys. apparently my mind has a disease where it replaces nouns with their antonyms and adjectives with their synonyms (or close to it). so suffusive to say i started out in a bad place when i put it in my tape deck…

and the beginning of the film didn’t help me much. it seemed slow, unfocused and all over the place. i didn’t know what i was getting into. was this about ruined relationships? or adultery? oh lord please don’t let it be about pedophilia. and the film had to work at me. i thought the script felt clunky at first. when timothy hutton arives home they seem to repeat everything twice.

“do you want to watch golf?”

“sure.” “sure.”

“put your bags down and we’ll watch some golf.”

“yeah.” “yeah.”

and the music seemed dripping with sentimentality. timothy hutton looks out over the street and there’s a big swell of strings. but the film stays grounded. mostly through matt dillon, timothy hutton, and yes, rosie o’donnell (her speech to dillon and hutton is what ultimately started winning me over). her 5 minute tirade inside the mini mart sets up the film for me. it perfectly sums up all of the guy characters in the film and sets the tone for the rest of it.

i can’t say that i’ve been there and done that about this film, and i’m not sure how much of that makes for a good film, but a lot of this felt genuine. especially the last 1/3 of the film. i think it would be easy to write it off as “lighthearted fodder”, but it would be taking away a lot of the film’s credit. demme is able to create real male characters who deal with the issue of commitment and relationships and who don’t speak the most eloquently about women, but instead of someone like apatow who would just make jokes out of the situation he shows how empty and hollow it truly is. and he allows the characters to realize this as well. letting the characters speak the way they normally would, and do in apatow films, but showing us that they know what shmucks they’ve truly become.

the 39 steps

May 13, 2008

a hitchcock film without suspense?

i just kept watching the film going…”that’s just ridiculous”. i mean the way that hannay gets out of trouble each time is so unbelievable that the film removes any sense of suspense because you know there’s no way that he’s ever going to be in any real danger. some really odd canted angles, some just awkward performance moments [i’m thinking specifically when the first spy dies and when the girl hannay gets handcuffed to is falling asleep. i mean no one rolls their head down and up then down and up when they’re falling asleep!] keep this film from reaching “major”-hitchcock status. i did like the lead performance of richard hannay by robert donat. he had some truly hilarious moments and had pretty good chemistry with madeleine carroll.

let’s put aside the fact that i don’t buy any of the character motivations, the fact that hannay is able to escape from any situation and that the people chasing him fail to search the first places i would be checking if i was the chaser makes the film loose a lot of credibility. though how much blame should be placed on hitchcock or the screenwriter is up for grabs.

you can see hitchcock’s marks on the film. his patented wrong man thriller, the maguffin, it’s all there. it just doesn’t amount to the same amount of greatness of his later films. i don’t want to seem like i’m just hating on the film because i did enjoy it enough to recommend, it just seems easier to point out faults then compliment. the fact is, i’m a huge hitchcock fan, so there was enough here to interest me and hold my attention and make it an enjoyable experience

the 400 blows

May 7, 2008

it’s lucky that this blog seems to coincide with a number of filmspotting message board marathons. we lined up on one or two films during hitchcock month and now again with the beginners french new wave. it helps me in the fact that i can mull over other listeners reviews and quantify my own response, and i think it’s easier to respond to someone else than come up with something off the top of my head (i’m a lazy writer like that).

i think you gotta view this film as a commentary on authority. i mean, the entire film we’re told (by authority) that antoine is a troubled child. that he is the one screwing up over and over again, but we are sympathetic towards his plight. we see situation after situation were the adults abuse their authority. where we a forced to almost laugh at how ridiculously they are acting. and we get very little commentary by truffaut on the subject. the one scene where we get a little bit of a nod is when antoine gets kicked out of his class for plagiarism, and his best friend rené follows suite. as rené is getting kicked out he actually talks back to the teacher, saying something to the extent of “this is illegal”.

antoine’s parents clearly have no idea how to handle the responsibility of parenthood. they complain because he gets on their nerves, they send him off to the police instead of trying to take responsibitly, and his mother clearly is not the shining example of how to lead a life. none of the adults in the film are. renés mothers a drunk, antoine’s mother is an adulterer, their school teacher abuses his power.

in response to a certain response to the film i have to completely disagree. i think the composition in this film is great (and if the dvd from the library would play on my laptop i would post some screencaps to defend my point). from a cinematography standpoint i don’t think you can criticize the film because of all the fantastic tracking shots and camera movement.

really enjoyed the film, and the french new wave continues not to disappoint us here at 4films.


a few notes of importance

for may there will be no immediate schedule. i still have to catch up with 39 steps and 2001 and a few films before a final exam this friday. look for my match up in the 1990s bracket thingy of beautiful girls and kicking and screaming.  also be looking for possible reviews of iron man and indy 4……. just because.