Sunday, July 26, 2015

493. LUCIA (1969)

Running Time: 160 minutes
Directed By: Humberto Solas
Written By: Julio Garcia Espinosa, Nelson Rodriguez, Humberto Solas
Main Cast: Raquel Revuelta, Eslinda Nunez, Adela Legra, Tete Vergara, Idalina Anreus

THREE, THREE, THREE FILMS IN ONE!

I'll do a "NON-BOOK Movies" update on my next review, as I'm a little pressed for time tonight. For anyone who cares (I'm guessing no one), I no longer have my weekend on Tuesdays and Wednesdays anymore and now have Tuesdays and Saturdays off. Therefore, since my wife is still working Saturdays at her job, I should be able to pound out at least one film every Saturday, from now until the finish line. Let's commence...

So the film is actually three short films, crushed into one movie, all three stories revolving around a girl named Lucia (all different women, they just all have the same name). The first one takes place in the late 1800s and this Lucia (Revuelta) is a proper, bourgeoisie woman, who associates herself with other bourgeoisie personalities. When she meets a man, coming from church, the two fall almost immediately in love. Later, Lucia finds out that he has a wife and child in another town and swears him off, only to fall in love with him again when he comes back and pleads with her to forgive him. The two are married and Lucia takes him to a coffee plantation where rebels (including her beloved brother) are hidden. Chaos ensues...

Part two's Lucia (Nunez), is a naive young girl, who goes to the Keys with her mother, at her father's request. Once there, her mother and Lucia quarrel and Lucia eventually meets Aldo, a young revolutionary who is determined to overthrow the current head of government, a vicious dictator. Lucia begins campaigning against the dictator as well, joining her husband in the fight and the two fall in love and are presumably married (although the ceremony is never shown). Lucia becomes pregnant, meanwhile Aldo is insistent on being a young revolutionary.

The final Lucia (Legra) is a field worker, at a farm. One day while hauling a sack of sweet potatoes, she is picked up by a young man. The two hit it off and are married (this time, we do see the ceremony, as well as the reception that follows). We see a montage that shows the newlyweds' in their happy, early days and then the wedding bells begin to fade and the husband becomes jealous, going so far as to board up the windows, so that he can lock Lucia up when he's at work. He refuses to let her continue working in the field, even though she wants to and refuses to even let other men look at her. When it is decreed that Lucia must learn to read & write, a male tutor must enter the home to teach her, which of course, sets off the husband.

Had a real hard time finding pictures to add to this review. Luckily, however, I managed to nab one of Eslinda Nunez, my favorite of the three Lucia actresses. 

Let's keep it short & sweet tonight, as again, I'm a bit pressed for time. I can't say I really cared for this and again, I'd have to blame culture clash as the dominant reason why. The film is underscored by a theme of Cuban history and Cuba's war to gain it's independence throughout the early 1900s. Therefore, it probably didn't hit me as hard as it did some. However, I didn't hate it and kudos to Solas for at least trying to make it interesting, intertwining three love stories with the Cuban history angle, to at least try to draw in some viewers who may not care as much as he did about the subject matter. Also, I would be hard pressed not to mention the three Lucia's, most notably Lucia #2 or Eslinda Nunez - what a cutie she was and a natural on the screen. I wonder if she's appeared in more stuff - I'll have to check it out for sure. As far as recommendations go, if you want to dip your toe into a bit of Cuban cinema, you could pick worse movies than this. If you're a history buff or a world cinema enthusiast then this is also probably right up your alley. However, if you're just a Joe like me, who likes a good 'ol movie, then take a pass here. This is much more than just a movie, as Solas sacrifices things like plot and character development in exchange for telling a meaningful story to him and the history of his country. Who am I to crap all over that...

RATING: 4.5/10  Just below the average marker and for nearly three hours, there are times when it does go by rather quickly, so that's another one in the plus column.

MOVIES WATCHED: 939
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 62

July 26, 2015  7:33pm

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

433 Doctor Zhivago (1965)


Running Time: 197 minutes
Directed By: David Lean
Written By: Robert Bolt, from novel by Boris Pasternak
Main Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Geraldine Chaplin
Click here to view the trailer

Note: Have I mentioned I've recently developed a fondness for thrift shops? My wife and I frequent a decent sized thrift shop in Morgantown, WV - home of WVU and the Mountaineers (Go 'Eers!) and I've taken to traveling there once a month or so and stocking up on paperbacks (which recently went from a buck a bag to a dime a piece). I own a Kindle and all, but I just love perusing through bin after bin of paperbacks, picking some up simply because they LOOK good, knowing nothing about them. Anyway, I snapped a picture of a little gem I found there this past week. I didn't buy it because I already have it on my computer and I don't have a great working VCR, but a few years back I'd have been ALL OVER THIS!


RIP OMAR SHARIF: 1932 - 2015

Omar Sharif passed away a few weeks ago and as soon as I saw his picture on my USA Today news feed, I immediately recalled one summer when me and my wife sat down to take in "Zhivago". More on that story later...


"Zhivago" is one of those "sweeping epics" that clocks in at about three hours and ten minutes and covers a lot of ground during it runtime. The film is told entirely in flashback, starting with a young Yuri Zhivago, who is orphaned when his mother dies, when he's very young. Yuri goes to live with his mother's best friend, her husband and their daughter, Tonya. Grown up, Zhivago (Sharif) now has aspirations of being a general practitioner and later, becomes engaged to Tonya, whom he fell in love after all those years. Meanwhile, there's also Lara Antipov (Christie), who's boyfriend is Pasha, a revolutionary. Later, V.I. Komarovsky (Steiger), a well connected Russian, takes an interest in Lara and later rapes her, making her his girlfriend. This revelation leaves Lara's mother stunned, since she had hopes of marrying Komarovsky herself and she tries to kill herself. This is when Zhivago and Lara first lay eyes on each other - Zhivago assisting the doctor, who rushes to Lara's mother's aid. Eventually war breaks out and Zhivago & his family are forced out of their house. It's around this time that Zhivago meets his brother, General Yevgraf Zhivago (Guinness), who instructs Zhivago and family to flee to Gromeko, where they'll be far away from trouble and the new shift in power. Zhivago obliges and one day, while at the library, notices Lara. The two begin an affair...I feel like that's plenty to get you started, as there's just so much ground to cover here and I could go on for days, plot summary wise.



I'll never forget my first apartment. No one will, right? The one thing I really remember about my our first apartment ("our" as in, me and my wife, of course) is that it was dreadfully hot. We moved in on June 24, 2007 and the place wasn't air conditioned. Despite the fact that I hate the heat, I loved literally everything else about the apartment, not to mention the experience of being a newlywed, going grocery shopping for myself for the first time, decorating OUR OWN PLACE, it was all so wonderful. Anyway - I'm rambling. During that summer of 2007, my wife and I made a decision one day to start chipping away at the IMDB Top 250 list. We printed it and decided to go from 250 to 1, watching in order. Dr. Zhivago was something like #247. It was a miserably hot, August day and we had rented Dr. Zhivago from the library and decided to spend a Sunday off taking it in. We weren't particularly excited to see it, but really, we didn't know what to expect. Long story short, we hated it. It became that movie that we'd always reference whenever we saw a long or boring or just plain bad movie - "Hey, at least it's no Zhivago" or "It could be worse, remember Zhivago?". It was THAT movie for us, for so long. In fact, when I first bought THE BOOK and made the decision to watch my way through it, one of my "do I really wanna do this" moments came when I realized that I'd have to watch "Dr. Z" again. Perhaps it was the heat that got to us that hot, August day, but it just goes to show you, this is why you always give a bad movie one more chance to impress.

Yes, this time I actually really enjoyed Dr. Zhivago. It surprised me even more considering last week, I watched Lawrence of Arabia to my utter disdain and that the two movies were directed by Lean. To say I dreaded Zhivago going in, would be a gross understatement. However, I still went in with an open mind and it was once again the photography of Freddie Young which got me to dip a toe in. Before long I was doing dog paddles in the cinematic sea that is Dr. Zhivago! Sure, I wouldn't go so far as to call it perfect (not yet), as the history stuff still threw me (in case you're new, my attention to films about history that I'm unfamiliar with....well, it isn't good), but all in all, I'd call it a VAST improvement over my initial impressions. No longer can I or will I reference "Zhivago" when trying to find an adjective to describe a bad film. Perhaps when trying to describe a beautiful film? "Well, the photography was great, but it was no Dr. Z!".



It's funny, because as I was checking into this movie on the various sites I frequent (IMDB, iCheckmovies, etc.), I noticed a lot of people saying that this was tougher to endure than "Lawrence". I found my opinion to be the exact opposite. This was a cinch to tackle, especially compared to the almost impossible to get through Lawrence of Arabia. While "Lawrence" is one that nearly required toothpicks to hold up the eyelids, "Zhivago" is one where I was hesitant to blink, for fear that I'd miss the next breathtaking frame a la Freddie Young. Or perhaps I'd miss yet another cheesecake shot of Julie Christie, her beautiful blue eyes, her luxurious blonde hair framing her face perfectly. I think I'd have to put Julie Christie in the TOP 5 on a list of "Actresses who I barely knew going into THE BOOK, but now LOVE!". The whole cast was really fine, from Sharif to Courtenay, but one that I'd have to point out particularly would be Rod Steiger. It's baffling to me how good he is and I sincerely want to see the rest of his filmography sooner, rather than later. To think that Komarovsky and Sgt. Gillespie ("In the Heat of the Night") are THE SAME PERSON is just unbelievable to me. There are literally no traces of one, in the other. In fact, even though I KNEW that Steiger played alongside Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night, I actually questioned that fact as I watched him perform in Dr. Zhivago. It takes fine actor to completely eliminate any previously seen roles from the audiences mind and put on an entirely NEW show, no reminisces of their former selves.

Anyway, I'll wrap by preaching, once again, to please always give movies two chances. A movie you hated yesterday, may one day become your favorite (and vice versa, really). Thanks to THE BOOK, I've come to see the greatness in movies like Dr. Zhivago and Requiem for a Dream, two movies I once hated, did complete 180's on and now love. It's a beautiful film, with a gorgeous leading lady and a fine cast all around, all, I think, fully aware that they're in something that's going to make big bucks and win big awards, therefore all are ready to turn in performances that will get them recognized. And even though David Lean and I didn't see eye to eye, as I watched my way through THE BOOK, it was Dr. Zhivago that made me wish Hollywood had more directors like Lean. David Lean is someone who you can see REALLY cared about the movies he put out. He wanted to make the best picture possible, using all of his natural abilities, send the audience home happy. The word "grandeur" comes to mind. It's talents like David Lean who make me wish there really was a fountain of youth. We could really use Lean (with photographers like Freddie Young by his side) to continue telling stories that shaped the history of the world - to tell us about revolutions and uprisings, downfalls and tragedies, world changing events and life altering tales. Despite never giving one of his films a rating higher than an '8', I still look forward to seeing the rest of Lean's filmography and I'll go on wishing that more director's like him come along, wishing that more director's like him would have never gone...

RATING: 7/10  WOW, that was a lot of writing and a lot of praise for a simple '7', but bear with me. The film went from a '1' to a '7' in one viewing, so that's actually a huge improvement.

MOVIES WATCHED: 938
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 63

July 23, 2015  5:35pm

Sunday, July 19, 2015

526. Le Chagrin et la pitie/The Sorrow and the Pity (1971)


Running Time: 262 minutes
Directed By: Marcel Ophuls
Written By: Andre Harris, Marcel Ophuls
Main Cast: Georges Bidault, Maurice Buckmaster, Emile Coulaudon, Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie, Jacques Duclos
Click here to view the trailer

MARCEL OPHULS: STILL ASKING

My good, lord, was this a chore or was this a chore! I'm just going to jump right into it tonight, because I really don't think I'll have a lot to say. I'm going to be blunt, I'm going to be short and to the point and we're going to wrap this one up, hopefully in record time.


It's a documentary, kids and that means that I"m probably either going to love it or hate it. Well, I'll put your wondering to an end right away - I hated it. I wanted to be one of the cool kids, who really liked this doc, which gets an 8.4 on IMDB and is pretty much liked by everyone, including Woody Allen, who I think had something to do with the DVD restoration, not to mention the fact that the film is featured in Annie Hall. Oh how I wanted to like the film that Woody likes, but Woody and I have different tastes (he doesn't even like his own movies, which I love and I don't hold Ingmar Bergman in nearly as high regard as he does). I started The Sorrow and the Pity yesterday morning and I managed to tackle three hours, throughout yesterday, saving the final hour for today. In fact, I was only able to tackle an hour of this at a time, before having to take a break.

Look guys, I'm just not a history guy. For the unaware, the film is about the German occupation in France during World War II. Marcel Ophuls (much like he did in Hotel Terminus), interviews people who lived during the time of the occupation, mostly everyday people, asking them to recall their memories of this horrific time period. I feel like, and I've said this before, that it's the responsibility of a documentarian to make me interested in the topic that their asking me to be interested in. Make me think, make me wonder, make me curious, make me thirsty for knowledge. The Sorrow and the Pity DID NOT make me do any of those things. Now that's a fact - not an opinion. So if you're reading this and calling me out - the truth is that I tried hard with this movie and I wasn't curious, interested, filled with wonderment, nor did I thirst for anything, except maybe a stiff shot of morphine to take away my sorrow and pity for having to sit through this. I hate to be so harsh, but these are my opinions.


If you want real sorrow and real pity, rent Shoah and bring a box of Puffs, because that's the World War II/tragic documentary that deserves all the acclaim. That's the talking head documentary that will really make you sit up, take notice and wonder how evil men came to be. There are some tragic stories throughout The Sorrow and the Pity. One particular is with an old woman, who recalls being wrongfully imprisoned for writing a letter that she did not write, beaten and nearly drowned by S.S. officers. It's horrible. However, mostly we're subject to stories about the occupation, not tragic, personal stories and the occupation stories are just downright boring. I wanted this to end by the time I was thirty minutes in and I'm glad it's over and done with. I told my wife, "If I had watched this really early on in my journey through THE BOOK, I'd have called it quits". That's the truth.

RATING: 1/10  I simply can't go higher and anything higher, would simply be me trying to pander to the popular opinion. I personally didn't like it one bit and wasn't interested in it's subject matter.

MOVIES WATCHED: 937
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 64

July 19, 2015  9:00pm

Saturday, July 18, 2015

254. The Band Wagon (1953)


Running Time: 112 minutes
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli
Written By: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Main Cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: NON-BOOK UPDATES!

Band of Outsiders (1964 - Jean-Luc Godard) 6/10 - Another TCM one. Seriously, if you live in the states and aren't constantly raiding Turner Classic Movies for film, you need to be. I was less than thrilled with this one. I think I expected more, after hearing Tarantino talk about it so much and even him naming his production company after it. I liked it fine, just not enough. Perhaps two or three more viewings sometime down the road would sweeten me. 

They Live by Night (1948 - Nicholas Ray) 6/10 - TCM again. Not entirely crazy about it. It got a lot better in the second half. I would've liked to have seen less complications early on and just gotten Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell into their wooded cabin ASAP. Still a pretty good little movie and nothing terrible on display. 

The Lucky One (2012 - Scott Hicks) 5.5/10 - So, my wife has been trying to compromise a lot lately and she's sat through some BOOK stuff with me, just to help me get finished. SO I figured it was my turn to sit through something with her. She's a Nick Sparks fanatic, but had yet to see The Lucky One, so I agreed. Not quite as atrocious as I expected and the presence of Taylor Schilling actually made me want to finally check out Orange Is the New Black. She was great here and looked great to boot. Efron isn't bad himself, but some serious roles would help to refine him, I think. 

The Threat (1949 - Felix E.Feist) 6/10 - Yeah, so all of my TCM ventures this week got a '6' - mediocre affairs, the lot of them. This one was only a little over sixty minutes and also dealt with a band of fugitives (like They Live by Night). This one was a lot simpler and just gave us the meat & potatoes of a band of crooks, trying to outwit the law and stay on the lam. Nice conclusion too. Probably the best of the three classics I saw, or at least tied with Band of Outsiders. 

Now then...

GOTTA' DANCE...AGAIN!

I also nabbed this one off of Turner Classic Movies as well - one less disc to get from Netflix, I thought. Can you believe, as of this writing, there are only forty-one discs on my Netflix queue!? Everything else that's left I either have access to on the computer or have recorded off of TCM. I can remember when I first started THE BOOK journey and put all THE BOOK movies on my queue. I maxed out my queue at 500 films and still had a handful that I had to leave off, because it wouldn't let me add anymore. Nitty gritty indeed...


Another musical from the minds of Comden and Green, The Band Wagon dusts off Fred Astaire (who probably didn't need much Pledge) as Tony Hunter and displays him as a has been song & dance man, who can't hang with the current crop of stars. When his stage writer pals, Lester Marton (Levant) and Lily Marton (Fabray) (supposedly the onscreen incarnation of Betty Comden and Adolph Green), write a new musical, however, Hunter looks to get back in the spotlight. The Marton's take their script to famed stage director, Jeffrey Cordova (Buchanan), who claims to love it, but then proceeds to change everything about it - turning it into a modern day retelling of Faust. Cordova plans to remake Tony Hunter a star and nab a leading lady who's worthy of his tap shoes. The one he has in mind, upstart star Gabrielle Gerard (Charisse). The two stars quarrel at first, Hunter still bitter that he's not in the limelight anymore, Gerard a youngster to the stage scene, who doesn't quite know how to take him. Eventually, their show opens and bombs (think The Duelling Cavalier), but Tony Hunter has ideas to redeem the show and tour with it, to all the major cities and repackage it as a variety show, using The Marton's original script as the entree.


Think The Duelling Cavalier, I said. It makes you think - at the heart of it all, isn't this movie much the same as Singin' in the Rain? Okay, there's huge differences of course, but the main story about a production flopping and then being rebranded as something else, that's an idea stolen by Comden & Green from Comden & Green, from Singin' in the Rain. Also Astaire & Charisse quarreling for the first half, reminded me a lot of Kelly & Reynolds feuding for the first half of Singin' in the Rain - only to make up and fall in love a la Astaire & Charisse. It kind of makes me want to see other Betty Comden/Adolph Green productions and see if they just kept recycling the same ideas, over and over.

Anyway, I didn't like this near as much as Singin' in the Rain. For one, the songs in The Band Wagon just weren't good. I enjoy musicals, to a certain extent. They're not my favorite, but I can certainly get behind them, but the music must be good. Every time Astaire or Charisse or someone would break into song, it would be this awful number and I just wanted to get back to the super thin plot - which is saying something, considering the plot wasn't anything to write home about either. How bout the song, "I Love Louisa". Just an awful number, that made my ears want to bleed. In fact, I feel like the first really decent song, was "Louisiana Hayride", sung with gusto by Nanette Fabray. And then, of course, "Triplets", which I'll admit, I rewound and called my wife into the room so she could see it. Loved that number. THE BOOK raves about the big finale, which is Astaire and Charisse starring in an eleven minute piece called "Girl Hunt", a film noir, with Astaire as the dick and Charisse as the dame. I'll admit Cyd Charisse looked fabulous in it (but then again, she looked fabulous throughout), but I wasn't totally thrilled with it. It was okay.


Seriously, I'll have to look into Cyd Charisse and see what else I can find her in. She looked marvelous. I also really dug Fred Astaire in this and it made me want to see the rest of his filmography, especially the ones he did side by side with Ginger Rogers. It made me want to go dig out Top Hat and Swing Time and rewatch them (I bought an Astaire and Rogers set after watching those for THE BOOK - wonder if I still have it?).

RATING: 5.5/10  We'll leave it at that. The end numbers (Louisiana Hayride, Triplets) and the appearance of the gorgeous Cyd Charisse and the uber talented Fred Astaire gets this otherwise bad musical over the average marker.

MOVIES WATCHED: 936
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 65

July 18, 2015  8:48am

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

387. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Running Time: 216 minutes
Directed By: David Lean
Written By: Robert Bolt, from memoir by T.E. Lawrence
Main Cast: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: Apparently I'm the worst person in the world to give a plug. Yesterday, after I plugged JD's 1001 Movies blog, I forgot to include a link. SO...click here to visit JD's page. Sorry about that...For future reference, I'll also be adding JD's page to the BlogRoll on the sidebar, where I've also recently added a Goodreads widget for anyone curious as to what yours truly is currently reading. Now then...

BLADE RUNNER ALL OVER AGAIN?

It's no secret that when I reviewed Blade Runner last month, I got crucified for my opinions. Okay, maybe that's too harsh a word, but certainly everyone who dropped by shared a different opinion than me. However, I defend my opinions and I'll continue to defend my opinions when/if the Lawrence of Arabia lovers come out to defend the epic. Read on...


I'm not even going to PRETEND to bullshit my way through a plot synopsis for "Lawrence", because, to tell you the truth, I was pretty lost past the ninety minute mark or so. All I can tell you is this: T.E. Lawrence (O'Toole) was a member of the British Army, who campaigned to be reassigned Arab Bureau, during World War I. He intends to speak with a Prince Faisal (Guinness) about aligning himself with the Arab nation against the Turks. There's a lot of desert wandering, a lot of "boy, it's hot out here" talk and a lot of history that I'm not familiar with. T.E. Lawrence eventually goes borderline mad, almost begging to be restationed, but always being assigned to return to the desert, due to his good rapport with Prince Faisal and his familiarity with the region. I was doing pretty good throughout the first ninety minutes, like I said, but the final two hours was me simply earning the tick and somewhat trying to stay interested, all the while knowing that this clearly wasn't my cup of tea. I find it familiar that my favorite David Lean picture is EASILY Brief Encounter, probably his shortest picture and easily his least grand, at least as far as what I've seen of his work.



I really don't know what else to say other than this was just downright boring to me. It felt like Lean was talking to a select group of moviegoers, the type of audience who also enjoyed getting extra homework when they were in school. At no point was there, as far as I'm concerned, an attempt to make this history lesson fun, entertaining or even, somewhat interesting. Sure, maybe it was interesting to you, but not to me - not in the slightest. When I popped in the DVD and saw a train blowing up on the DVD menu, I though, "Okay, well at least there's a train explosion - can't be all bad, right?" WRONG!


If you put a gun to my head right now and forced me to pick something out that I liked, it wouldn't be a hard choice. The sole reason that this movie will get any points in my rating column, falls on the shoulders of Freddie Young - the film's cinematographer. In the words of Christopher Walken, "WOW! Wowie wow wow wow!". You could've picked up the remote and randomly hit the pause button throughout and anywhere you stopped, you'd have stopped on a breathtaking shot. He's also the man who shot Doctor Zhivago, which I'll be watching soon, so at least I have that to look forward to. What I don't look forward to, is another David Lean epic. I think we've established by now that I just don't like Lean's brand of storytelling, stretching mildly interesting affairs, into three plus hour ordeals. I will say, this is easily the worst Lean I've seen, with Bridge on the River Kwai at least having some interesting bits and main event ending and A Passage to India being solid throughout. By all means, see this and form your own opinions, but you have been warned.

Bring on the ridicule for my taste in film....

RATING: 3.5/10  I'm just glad it's over. Seriously, if you disagree with me, let me know and tell me why I'm so ignorant. What'd I miss? Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Dairy Queen chicken strip basket to prepare for!

MOVIES WATCHED: 935
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 66

July 15, 2015  5:11pm

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

245. Singin' in the Rain (1952)


Running Time: 103 minutes
Directed By: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Written By: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Main Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: Couple things this week:

In addition to an update of NON-BOOK movies I've watched in the past seven days, I also wanted to give you guys a heads up and point you to another 1001 blogger. It's JD's 1001 Movies and "JD" himself was kind enough to give me a shout out on Twitter, naming me as one of his inspirations for starting the blog. I'm so appreciative of that, that I knew I had to, at the very least, give him a plug. So head on over and watch someone do it all over again, from the beginning. The cool thing about JD's blog is that he's not confining himself to one 1001 BOOK, but rather tackling all incarnations. That's a good idea...

NON-BOOK UPDATES

I Love You To Death (1990 - Lawrence Kasdan) 7/10 - Solid comedy, with a great performance from Kevin Kelly, backed up by a pretty great cast, including William Hurt, Keanu Reeves (he's solid here), River Phoenix, Joan Plowright and Tracey Ullman. This is actually an old favorite of mine, as I discovered it on Comedy Central when I was a kid.

Lady In the Lake (1947 - Robert Montgomery) 6.5/10 - Again, I've been recording stuff off of TCM left and right and this one sounded good enough for me to set it up. The gimmick is that the whole thing is shot as a POV shot, from the point of view of our main dick, played by Montgomery himself (directing and starring). However, his screen time is nil, as we only see him when he looks in a mirror, or interrupts the story to give us first person updates. I felt like the POV gimmick actually took away from the movie. It was a fun idea and they pulled it off semi-successfully, but I've seen much better noirs. Thumbs in the middle.

Antoine and Colette (1962 - Francois Truffaut) 6/10 - This is my problem with short films: they're just too short to amount to anything notable. That's really the only problem I had with Truffaut's second installment of his "Antoine series". I could've sat through a feature length production of this, I think, but at only twenty some minutes, it came off as almost pointless. Still good enough to warrant a '6' and have me wanting to see the next Antoine film.

The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963 - Eric Rohmer) 7/10 - Okay, so I spoke too soon about short films, as this one is only twenty-three minutes and I felt like it was the perfect length. Clearly not enough material here to go much longer. The Six Moral Tales set has been sitting on my desk for weeks, dare I say MONTHS waiting for me to view it and I've been pecking away at it, like a bird does roadkill. A couple months ago I tackled Love in the Afternoon (which was so good, that I added it to my SINS OF OMISSION list, also adding it to my personal 1,000 films list), so when my wife was working the other day and I took the day off for my birthday (31 now, yee-haw), I decided to tackle the very first of the SIX MORAL TALES. Not bad at all. It seems that all of these deal with men who either ALMOST have affairs or feel like they've had affairs when actually they didn't. I'd call I Love You to Death the best NON-BOOK I saw all week, with this coming in as an extremely close second.

Now then...

GOTTA' DANCE!

If you've made it this far, kudos to you! Sorry you had to sledge through so many updates, just to get to the main course, but I hope it was worth it. I actually watched Singin' In the Rain on FRIDAY NIGHT! Saturday I was too tired, Sunday was my birthday which I spent being extremely lazy and Monday I took a sick day from work, being lazy again. So here we are and hopefully we can get back on the right track now.


I feel like a lot of people know that this is the movie where Gene Kelly sings (and dances) in the rain, but I think a lot of people only associate this film with that one, albeit iconic, scene. So sit back and I'll fill you in on the "deets". The film is set in the 20s, right around the time that talking pictures came to be a reality. It's the end days for silent films and the top silent stars Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Hagen) are going to be forced to dust off their vocal chords and start talking. After the success of The Jazz Singer, producer R.F. Simpson (Mitchell) decides to turn the lates Lockwood and Lamont picture into a talkie. It's called The Dueling Cavalier, however, because Lina Lamont has such a thick New York accent, no one onset wants her to be heard - ever. So Don and buddy Cosmo (O'Connor) come up with the idea to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a musical, dubbing Lina's voice with the voice of upstart actress Kathy Selden (Reynolds). Meanwhile, Don is falling for Kathy and EVERYTHING has to be kept a secret from Lina Lamont, who hates Kathy Selden, stemming from an earlier incident involving a pie in the face. And yes, the film itself is a musical, with great numbers such as: "Good Morning", "Moses Supposes" and of course, the very rewindable "Singin' in the Rain". Those are a few of my personal favs. The whole movie ends with the tad overlong Broadway Melody Ballet, which runs for what seems like twenty minutes or better.

SPOILER ALERT!



I've probably seen Singin' in the Rain something like five times in my life and I don't think I've ever seen it without rewinding and rewatching the Singin in the Rain number, at least once. I did the same thing when I watched it on Friday. It's a bold statement, but I'd have to say that it's one of my all-time favorite scenes, in any movie. It's a scene that ALWAYS makes me smile, always makes me tap my toe or clap my hands, it makes me want to see more Gene Kelly movies and it always reminds me of why I love movies. It' sheer entertainment, but in fact, the whole film is sheer entertainment, which is why I have to give it a positive review, despite a handful of flaws.

Man, how annoying was Donald O'Connor in this. THE BOOK notes his "Make 'Em Laugh" performance as one of the highs of the picture, but I'd call it easily one of the most annoying things I've ever seen and I don't think I laughed once. I, for some reason, just really, really disliked Donald O'Connor's character here. Also, as I mentioned in the plot synopsis, the ending musical number was just way too long. It got to the point where I just didn't think it would ever end and I had to push the "display" button on my remote to see how much of the film was left (that's sort of the measuring stick for me to know when a film is dragging, whether or not I push that button). I'd also say that the plot is a little thin. I mean you have this close to two hour film that all hinges on whether or not they'll let this annoying woman talk on film.


Other than those things though, how can you not, at least a little bit, love Singin' in the Rain. It's a smile inducer of a film, one that I'll happily watch periodically for the rest of my life. It's a fun watch and one where the flaws are easy to overlook, just to get to the good parts. If you don't smile (at least a little) watching Kelly sing (and dance) in the rain, then I'm not sure we can be friends.

RATING: 7.5/10  One that will probably land on the next (and last) TOP 20 list, just because it's one that I know I could watch over and over, always overlooking the flaws and ALWAYS rewinding to see Gene Kelly sing (and dance) in the rain, one more time.

MOVIES WATCHED: 934
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 67

July 14, 2015  10:10am