It’s the chance to learn about my progress with my AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies project, which is also the perfect opportunity for me to bastardize quotes from The Godfather. We all
lose win! February was a pretty intense month, because I had to watch seven films on the list in addition to all the other movies I watched for work or just because. PLUS I watched House of Cards in its entirety over the last week. Someday, someone’s going to make a terrible movie about me called I Don’t Know How She Does It. Oh. Wait. Anyway, let’s get on with it!
Double Indemnity (1944). This one was pretty great! Basically this insurance agent guy played by Fred MacMurray falls for Barbara Stanwyk and they plot to kill off her husband and make off with the insurance money. It seems like a foolproof plan since buddy knows how the biz works, but obviously there are a variety of pitfalls along the way. I love the way people talk in old movies. I don’t know if people in real life were just more eloquent in the ’40s, but I’m going to choose to believe they were.
Rear Window (1954). I mean, obviously Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense for a reason; what impressed me about Rear Window is how incredibly captivating it was, despite being so confined. Jimmy Stewart is a photographer who’s in a wheelchair following an accident, and is stuck staring out the window at other people’s lives the whole time. He has some visitors, like his girlfriend, Grace Kelly, his nurse and his police friend, but really it’s all about him staring out a window and possibly witnessing a murder. The film manages to be really tense, especially when we’re not sure if Jimmy’s gone crazy, but it’s also funny at times, and all around entertaining. The way that it all takes place in one setting makes it feel kind of like a really brilliant play or something.
Network (1976). I feel like it’s kind of weird I had never seen the film that spawned the line “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” This is the blackest of black comedy. Peter Finch plays a news anchor whose ratings are down and is about to be fired. With nothing to lose, he unleashes an angry tirade on air and, surprisingly, both the network and his audience adore him for it, and it leads to an incredibly scathing film about media, corporations and the public. I’m not sure I’ve completely wrapped my mind around this movie yet. Like, I got it, but it was just such cutting, intelligent satire that I almost couldn’t believe it was allowed to exist. I’m trying to think of a way to explain how mind-blowingly excellent Network is, but I think it’s something you just have to see for yourself.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). With the law chasing after them, medium successful train robbers Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are on the run, eventually heading to Bolivia to hide out. I’m not a huge fan of westerns in general I guess, but what made this one so enjoyable was the relationship between the two leads. Butch has a lot of ideas – they’re not all good ideas, but he has a lot of them – while Sundance has the shooting skills to get them out of a lot of the situations they find themselves in. They complement each other well, and I feel like their friendship really sets it apart.
The Last Picture Show (1971). This film is sort of a coming of age film, but more importantly it’s about a tiny, dying Texas town. It’s a quiet movie about teenagers discovering themselves and their sexuality, and also trying to find something bigger, outside of their small, suffocating world. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very good film, and I really enjoyed watching it, but I don’t think it’s one that’s really going to stick with me for whatever reason. It’s well-crafted and well-acted, but it’s also bleak as hell, and a bit too lacking in entertainment value for my liking.
The Godfather (1972). Am I allowed to say I didn’t love The Godfather? Is that OK? Will someone put a hit out on me? I mean, I can see why so many people love it, and I recognize that it’s a good movie, but it’s just not the kind of movie I personally enjoy. Maybe I’m just too stupid to like it, because honestly I didn’t entirely know what was going on half the time. I was sort of interested in Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) arc from war hero to mafia boss, as he gets entangled in his father, Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) whole criminal business, but I kind of just lost patience with it after a while, and didn’t really care about who died or why. I feel like I need to apologize to someone for not liking this movie. Maybe my dad, who loves the shit out of it. SORRY DAD!
The Godfather: Part II (1974). Actually, I enjoyed the sequel more. I thought it was much more interesting structurally, acting as both a prequel by showing Vito’s rise to power (played by Robert De Niro) and as a sequel, following Michael’s trajectory as he becomes more of a ruthless bastard, who fears he’s moving too far away from his father’s vision. It was definitely more appealing to me than the original, but like, do I ever want to watch it again? No, not really. Maybe Goodfellas will be more my scene. I’ll find out soon enough, because it’s totally on the list!