Category Archives: AFI project

STELLLAAAAAAAAA!

Honestly, Marlon Brando screaming “Stellllaaaaaaa!” in A Streetcar Named Desire was basically the highlight of my life. I vaguely knew it was coming, but it was still awesome. “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” on the other hand? Wow! Kind of a super crazy dark moment! Was not entirely expecting that. Anyway. Here are the movies I watched this month for my AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies project this month.

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Apocalypse Now (1979). I mean…can I just say, this was kind of a bummer? It was all so dark and long, which I guess is appropriate since it’s about the Vietnam War, but ugh. Basically Martin Sheen is some U.S. army guy who has to go find this other army guy who went insane and has created his own army in the jungle or something. I don’t know, I kind of completely lost interest and did I mention this was really long? So much war, war takes a long time, the Vietnam War was extra crappy and stupid, the end.

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Raging Bull (1980). I was pleasantly surprised that this was not totally about boxing. I mean, it was about boxing, I just thought there would be MORE boxing. I hate war and sports, how female of me. Anyway. Robert De Niro is basically this rageaholic boxer and his brother/manager is Joe Pesci, and you’d better not ever talk to Robert De Niro’s wife, because he will probably murder you and also his wife. He’s this aggressive boxer who’s completely held back by his own jealousy and insecurity. It’s violent and depressing and makes for a great and powerful movie.

 It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night (1934). OK, time for something a bit more positive. It turns out in ’30s you could kidnap your daughter and trap her on a boat if you don’t like her new husband! That happens to a socialite played by Claudette Colbert, but then she escapes from her super rich father and meets up with journalist Clark Gable, who agrees to take her across the country to her husband in exchange for a story. OBVIOUSLY they fall in love and get into some shenanigans. It was all very fun and cute, although I didn’t super love how Clark kept calling her a brat before he even knew her? Rude!

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Vertigo (1958). WOW! It’s so ridiculous that I had not seen this before, Vertigo is the best! Jimmy Stewart plays a retired detective who had to leave his job after his vertigo prevents him from saving the life of another officer. He’s hired by Kim Novak’s husband to tail her…she’s been acting strangely and her husband is convinced she’s possessed. What follows is for sure the best psychological thriller I’ve ever seen. It was so weird and good and awesome, you should probably just watch it if you are a dummy like me and have not seen it yet. Man, Hitchcock was so excellent at what he did, good for him!

raiders

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Ehh. I thought this was pretty overrated. I mean, it was FINE, but I didn’t think it was super awesome or interesting or anything. Basically Indiana Jones takes on a bunch of Nazis in a race to uncover this biblical artifact that they believe is buried in Egypt. I don’t know, I didn’t love it. There was this one part where everyone’s faces melt, that was fun. Also, Indy’s main weapon is a whip, so that seems practical!

streetcar

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). This was another really great, captivating movie that I very much enjoyed. Man, Marlon Brando was sooooo attractive! He plays a total asshole monster person named Stanley, who’s married to Stella (Kim Hunter). Stella’s sister, fading Southern belle Blanche (Vivien Leigh) comes to stay with them. She’s pretty desperate, and terrified about aging; she depends on male attention and needs someone to take care of her. She and Stan DO NOT GET ALONG SO WELL and it does not turn out very well, but still, great movie. Remember? STELLLLLAAAAAA!

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Blade and Blade Runner are NOT the same movie

Yeah, I really thought Wesley Snipes was in Blade Runner until, oh, a few weeks ago. So that’s embarrassing. Anyway…I finished watching the six films for my AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies project early this month. This is convenient, because I’m going away today to go skiing for the long weekend. I know, two ski trips in one year! This time my dad and I are going to Quebec City to ski at Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Massif. So that should be fun. But for now, let’s get on to the movies.

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Blade Runner (1982). Clearly I didn’t know much about this one going into it. Well, there aren’t any vampires in it, but it does take place in a dystopian future. Harrison Ford is this retired police officer who’s called back to work to hunt down a bunch of replicants, these androids that look exactly like humans, but are banned from Earth, and are only allowed to live on colonies. They came back to Earth because replicants only live for four years, and they want to live longer. Oh, and Harrison Ford falls in love with a replicant. I don’t know, I like sci-fi and dystopian futures, but I did not love this movie. I got kind of bored with it and I found it all moved really slow and really, there isn’t even that much that happens. It definitely looked good for 1982, but yeah, definitely not my favourite.

chinatown

Chinatown (1974). Man, Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are the actual best ever! So this is an awesome mystery/film noir kind of thing, where Jack plays a private eye. He starts out investigating the chief engineer for L.A.’s Department of Water and Power to see if he’s having an affair. But then he turns up dead, and Jack finds himself embroiled in this whole crazy conspiracy, along with the engineer’s wife, Faye. This is such a great movie because it has so many intricate layers that slowly unfold, and everyone in it is just so excellent.

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North by Northwest (1959). This started out promising, but then it kind of took a turn and went off in a direction that I was not so very interested in. It starts when Cary Grant is mistaken for some guy named George Kaplan, and he’s pursued by these mysterious dudes and has no idea what it is they want. That part was good! But then he meets Eva Marie Saint and starts to figure stuff out, and then it just kind of got stupid, or maybe I just lost interest, but in any case I felt like it was not as good as it could have been.

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Some Like it Hot (1959). I had never seen a Marilyn Monroe movie before, and this one sure was wacky. I did see that fairly terrible movie Connie and Carla a few years ago, though, and it turns out this is exactly the same plot except, you know, better. Anyway, these two musicians, Joe and Jerry, witness a murder by a bunch of Chicago gangsters. Clearly the only way to protect themselves is to crossdress, join an all-ladies band, and run off to Florida. They both fall for one of the band members (Marilyn, duh) and one of them poses as a millionaire to trick her into falling in love with her. Then an actual millionaire falls in love with the other one (who’s dressed like a lady, of course). Um. This is a very silly screwball comedy, but it was enjoyable too.

grapes-of-wrath

The Grapes of Wrath (1940). It turns out you should never be an Oklahoma farmer during the Great Depression. Who knew!? Basically, the Joad family is kicked off their land when the bank forecloses on them. They head to California in search of work, but the road trip there is super not fun, and it turns out California kind of sucks too. I read the book a long time ago, and I remember that it ends on a much more depressing note than the movie. It’s probably a good thing that the film went for that glimmer of hope, because damn, this is not a happy film. It’s a pretty great movie, but it definitely won’t restore your faith in the American Dream.

easyrider

Easy Rider (1969). I can’t get over how much I loved this movie! Like, I was not alive in the ’60s, and I have never lived in the States, but I feel like this film perfectly captured the atmosphere of 1960s America. So, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are these two hippies who sell a bunch of coke to make a bunch of money, then head from L.A. to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Along the way, they meet a rancher, hang out in a commune, befriend an alcoholic lawyer played by Jack Nicholson and have a bad trip when they take LSD in a graveyard with some prostitutes. It also turns out that southern rednecks totally hate hippies. It’s filled with all these great landscape shots and lots of weird, distinct editing, plus a soundtrack that feels very emblematic of the era. What a weird, great film!

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I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse

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!

DoubleIndemnity

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.

rearwindow

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

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.

butchcassidy

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.

pictureshow

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

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!

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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!

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AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies

As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, I plan to watch AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies this year. I love movies, and I actually review films for the publication I work for, but I still haven’t seen a lot of the classics, and I feel like this must be rectified. I decided to go with the 10th anniversary list for no particular reason other than it was the first one I came across, and it seemed to have a lot of older movies on it (by older movies, I mean anything that was released before 1990). I’ll probably end up watching the films that were on AFI’s original list but didn’t make the cut the second time around at some point, anyway.

Also, I have a head start, because I’ve already watched 26 movies on the list, which means I only have to watch 74. This works out to around six a month, which is very manageable. Admittedly I’m already a little behind schedule…I only watched five this month. It’s fine, I will watch seven in February. Yes, I know it’s a short month, I can still do it! I’m not going to do elaborate reviews – those are already on the Internet, duh – I’ll just stick to short recaps. So, here’s what I watched in January.

tootsie

Tootsie (1982). Well this sure was wacky! Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who struggles to get good jobs, so he does what any man would do and dresses up like a woman to get a job on a soap opera, where he befriends his costar but also he falls in love with her. It was funny, although I have to say I got kind of a no feeling from the increasingly awkward situations he got into while lying to the person he was supposedly in love with all along.

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Bonnie and Clyde (1967). The thing that struck me about this one was how much it influenced every heist/bank robber film that came after. There were moments where I was like, this seems cliche! But then I remembered that it was kind of the first movie ever like this, so it wasn’t actually cliche at all. Another important observation: Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were both insanely attractive.

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Midnight Cowboy (1969). In this movie, Jon Voight moves to New York City and learns that it’s actually totally hard to be a male prostitute who only sleeps with women. But, he also befriends Dustin Hoffman, who is kind of a rat-faced creep, but then it turns out that he has a good heart sometimes and they form a pretty beautiful and also sad friendship. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Dr-Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). This was ALSO not at all what I expected. At first I was kind of losing interest, but then I realized this film, about the arms race and nuclear weapons, was actually really darkly funny. There are so many scenes with great dialogue satirizing the whole situation, and once I realized what was happening, I got really into it.

taxidriver

Taxi Driver (1976). This was my favourite of all my January movies. First of all, young Robert De Niro is pretty hot! Especially with a mohawk. Anyway, he plays a restless former marine who takes a job as a cab driver because he can’t sleep at night anyway. After witnessing a bunch of terrible things and terrible people, he kind of goes all vigilante and decides to clean up the city himself. I really liked the weird note it ends on…it was sort of a positive note, but I highly doubt things ended happily for that character.

Just in case you’re dying to know, the movies on AFI’s list that I’ve already watched are after the cut.

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