Sunday, March 6, 2011

#55 The Third Man (1949), 93 min

Beth: So, I know it's been a while since we've watched a movie on the list. And I can't say that we've sprung back with a bang. A couple of weeks ago we watched The Third Man. Let me just start out by saying that usually, any movie that is black and white will make me feel bored during the movie. I'm a present-day movie snob. I need mental, auditory and visual stimulation. Constantly. So my initial feeling about this movie was that it sucked.

I've had a couple weeks to calm down and reflect on the actual movie and it's not half bad. If you can get past all the things I just mentioned. Basically, the main character (Holly - who's a man) arrives in Vienna to see his friend Harry. Harry has offered Holly a job. But when Holly arrives, Harry isn't at the train station so Holly goes to Harry's place to learn that he just died. So Holly goes to the funeral. He's curious about the details of Harry's death and starts looking into it. He meets Harry's girl and starts asking too many questions. It gets a little difficult to explain after that but basically it turns out that Harry was into some dirty business and the authorities were about to arrest Harry before his untimely death.

It has a very cool twist that I didn't think was possible of a 1940s movie. They are able to pull off some pretty cool filming angles as well. There's a large-scale search scene (reminding me very much of The Sound of Music). I think that with the right score, this movie would be something today. According to IMDB, it's ranked higher than Braveheart. Unless there are a LOT more elderly people logging into IMDB than I give them credit for, I'm not exactly sure what the hubbub is all about.

Alf: The Third Man is a movie about a writer who goes to visit a friend while looking for work. When he arrives at his friend's house, he finds out that he recently died. The writer (Holly) tries to find out what happened to his friend (Harry), and the further he digs, the more he finds out about Harry's past dealings. Through his investigation Holly comes to the conclusion that foul play was involved.

Overall, I think the movie was pretty good although a bit slow at times. I don't know if it's because we're used to a little more elaborate mysteries now, or if this one was just a little bit easier to predict. I think the story line with Holly, the out-of-town friend, and Anna (Harry's girlfriend) was probably more interesting than the mystery. Since Harry was dead, it was an odd dynamic. Holly and Anna seemed to grow close pretty quickly because they had something big in common (Harry's death), and needed someone to share their feelings with.

So, I did end up liking the movie, but I probably wouldn't have had it on my list of all-time favorites. If they could have picked up the pace in parts of the movie, I think it would have had more of a "thriller" feel. As it is, it's still a pretty good mystery/noir movie.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#93 Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1948), 93 mins.

Beth: Wow. What a weird movie. I have NO idea why this movie is in the top 250. Alf and I searched all over and all we found was people referring to this movie being in the top 100 movies of all time. It was like, just because it was in the top 100 movies, that automatically made it a good movie. Almost a chicken or egg thing. I mean, how did it get in the top 100 if people didn't write a good review and yet no one can reference or even write a good review. So, here's my review.

It's about this guy who is looking for work after WWII in Italy. He's been without work for a while and he finally wins the job lottery and he gets a job. But he needs a bicycle. He had a bicycle a year ago when he registered with the unemployment office but he had to pawn it. How ironic that to make money, he needs something he sold to make money. So, naturally, his wife has to come to the rescue. She pawns the sheets so he can buy back the bicycle. Life is great. He goes to his first day of work and what happens? Some fool steals his bicycle. Random side note: it looks like someone tries to stop our guy from chasing after the bike thief. Why would someone do that? Also, apparently this guy started work on Saturday because the day after his bike is stolen, he has the day off to look for his bike and it's Sunday. Random.

The rest of the movie, this guy and his kid, Bruno, look for the bike. Bruno really makes the movie worth something. He looks like he's 8 but he's got more sense than his old man. They go to the flea market to look for the bike. They see the thief but can't catch him and follow another lead. They give up and the dad decides to treat Bruno to some pizza. By a stroke of luck, they see the thief again (this is Rome, right? I mean, what are the odds of seeing this kid so many times?). They finally catch the thief but the bike is long gone and they have no proof. They have no choice but to give up. How can life be so cruel? So unfair? It's just a bicycle that separates a family from poverty and riches. In a moment of desperation, the guy makes his own attempt to steal a bicycle and gets caught. The owner does not press charges but Bruno is scarred for life.

As I finished this last paragraph, I realized that I wrote the same thing every other review has written. No review at all. Just a retelling of the story. And I thought I was done. Funny. Anyway, this movie is pretty bare bones. Looking at IMDB, they used an amateur cast and "neo-realism" which is a fancy term that means that they shot the film as-is. No sets were created. They just used what they had around. So it forces you to focus on the movie and the emotions that are playing on the characters. I spent so much of the movie making fun of it but in retrospect, I think it might have been a good movie. The desperation of the characters was obvious. I didn't need fancy music choreography to understand the magnitude of the situation. Of course, I also wasn't moved to tears. I think this one you might have to watch yourself.

Alf: I'll keep this review short. The movie is about a guy in post-war Italy who is looking for a job. He finally lands one, but the problem is that it requires transportation (a bicycle), and he just pawned his. He ends up lying and saying that he still has his, so he takes the job. During one of his jobs, the bike gets stolen, and the rest of the movie is about trying to find his bike and the guy that stole it. I believe they did something "cute" with the title, since it's called the "bicycle thief." The majority of the movie IS about him trying to find his thief, but at one point he becomes so desperate that he tries to steal one himself.

Anyway, I can say that I saw the movie now...but I think I'm missing the "greatness" of it. The movie does kind of end all of a sudden with no real end, so one of the things that I can think of is that maybe for the time that it was released, most movies had happy endings and everything was cookies and rainbows, but this one was not like that. Now, of course, we do have movies like that every day, so it's not "new," but it might have been at the time. But! Since this is my first time seeing it, it was new to me, but slightly boring. Maybe next time...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

#2 The Godfather (1972), 175 mins.

Beth: Bear with me. We actually watched this movie on New Years and forgot to write a review. So here's what I remember: the movie was SLOW. LONG and slow. There's the Godfather who's in charge of the mafia. It begins with the wedding of his daughter. All the while, people are asking him for favors. His favorite son comes to the wedding and insists that he's not getting in the biz. He's doing his own thing. The Godfather's cool with it. Time passes, the horse head in the bed happens (put my favorite nephew in your movie or I'll kill you like I did your prize horse) and then before you know it, the favorite son is in the biz. He kills some people and has to flee the country. He lives in the motherland (Italy) for a while, where I think he meets his wife. They are happy until he has to return to the U.S. because his father is dead. He takes over the biz. The end. Save yourself from watching it. Maybe the sequel will be better??

Alf: Not sure that I remember too much about the movie, the movie spans a long time, maybe a decade? So, there's a lot to fit into the movie, and some of it blurs together. I do remember that the Don's son was in the military, and he came home and was basically staying away from the mafia business. Here's what I think happened... Some time later, someone asks the Don to be his partner in his new drug business, but the Don is opposed to being in the drug business, so he declines the offer. The drug dealer goes to another Mafia Don, and this time, this Don accepts the offer for partnership...then some mafia war breaks out.

I do remember liking the movie at the time, but I didn't think it was "great." I definitely don't remember saying "this is the best movie I've ever seen." You know? Anyway, might have to give it another try some day, but at this rate, it'll be another 15 years before I see it again [I saw part of it when I was younger, but I don't remember seeing the whole thing.]

#175 The Hangover (2009), 100 mins.

Beth: So I wasn't sure if I'd like this movie so I waited to watch it. And everyone kept telling me how great it was. I think by the time I actually watched it, there was too much hype. I felt like all the best parts were in the previews. I liked the beginning of the movie and then it just fell apart for me. And I guess I wasn't the only one who felt that way. When we printed this list, The Hangover was in the Top 250 and now it isn't. If you haven't heard the story, it's a Bachelor party gone bad in Vegas. All the guys can't remember what happened that night or where the groom is and they are in a race against time to find him and deliver him to his wedding. Zach Galifianakis plays the future-brother-in-law who gets a pity invite (because he's weird) to the party. He provides most of the comedy. Along the way, they have to set straight a bunch of stuff they messed up the night before.

Alf: This review actually comes as a surprise. We recently watched this movie at home, it was my second time. I had originally watched it in the theater with friends, but Beth hadn't gone with us. The reason I say that it was a "surprise" was because I had no idea that it could possibly be in the imdb top 250. At the time that I had watched it, I thought the movie was funny and entertaining, but even then knew that it wasn't "timeless." Apparently, people are starting to realize this. At the time we had printed the list of Top 250, The Hangover was at 175, now it's no longer on the list. We said at the beginning that we were doing the Top 250 at the time, and this is why. The list keeps changing, there'd be no way to keep up with the changes from week-to-week.

Anyway, the movie does have funny parts in it, but most of the writing is unfortunately only good for laughs the first time. That's the problem with a lot of comedies (for me). You really need to have some great dialog for a comedy to be funny over and over, if the whole movie consists of slapstick-type humor, it doesn't really do it for me after the first time. In short, I'd say that people should watch the movie if they're never seen it before, since it does provide a few good laughs and Zach Galifianakis steals the show. Also, resist the temptation to watch it again, it's always better in your memory.

Watched ~6/25/2010

#123 Cool Hand Luke (1967), 126 mins.

Beth: So I voted to watch Cool Hand Luke the other day. I heard something about it on NPR and it triggered some desire to watch it. I knew nothing about it. I didn't even know that the quote "What we have here, is a failure to communicate..." was from the movie. The basic idea of the movie is that a decorated war hero, Paul Newman, gets a 2-year prison sentence for destroying public property. Seems a little drastic. Like movies today, we side with the protagonist, who's done bad things. In today's movies, the "bad things" are way worse. In Ocean's Eleven, we side with a whole band of thieves. In Repo Men, we're ok with the main character killing dozens of "loan collectors" after defaulting on a loan. In The Professional, you are endeared to a professional hitman.

Unlike movies today, Paul Newman isn't the prison badass. He gets into a fight and gets his ass handed to him and somehow that endears him to his fellow combatant and everyone else in the prison (it's a small prison). The second half of the movie reminded me more of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Very much about taking the person who is a figure that everyone looks up to for strength and hope and destroying all hope and breaking the guy. When all hope is lost, what remains? A freaky side note: there's this one retarded guy in prison and he looked really familiar. I knew it wasn't him but I said he looked a lot like Owen Wilson. Alf said he looked like Dennis Hopper. I thought he meant how I meant it - just resembles Dennis Hopper. Nope, turns out it was Dennis Hopper!

Alf: I had been putting off seeing this movie my whole life. I had heard of the scene where Paul Newman eats 50 eggs, and I figured it'd be disgusting to watch. Anyway, I finally caved, saw it and the scene...I survived. Actually, the movie was pretty good, not sure if there was a theme per se, but it was still good to see. We know that the main character was a war vet, so it's assumed that he was drinking to "forget," when he gets arrested and thrown in jail. It was definitely one of those cases, for me, where the punishment didn't fit the crime. A 2 year sentence for defacing some public property is a little extreme...but, then we wouldn't have a movie.

At the beginning of the movie Paul Newman starts off wanting to be the loner, then gets into a fight with the leader type guy of the prison, loses, then becomes friends with everyone. I'm guessing because he could really take a beating, so people admired him for that.

Anyway, I did like it...maybe I'd find more of a theme if I watch it again someday.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

#8 - 12 Angry Men (1957)

Beth: So, for a film from 1957, I was seriously impressed. We watched Amelia after this movie and it made 12 Angry Men (which takes place in 1 room) look like an action movie. We had some fun with the language of the era and some trouble understanding what was going on sometimes because of cultural implications. In one scene someone says "them" like it's "us" against "them" but we couldn't figure out what "them" was. By the end of the movie, we figure out it's slum dwellers. What do you call someone who's prejudice against someone's poverty level?

There was also an odd bit at the end when this one juror freaks out and we had NO idea why. He tears up at a photo and changes his vote but without an explanation. I looked it up on wikipedia and they said that "is is revealed that he's separated from his son and he tore up a photo of him." When the hell did we learn that? All in all, it was a pretty good movie and it was only 97 minutes so it didn't take half the day to watch like some other movies. I also think it put jury duty in new light and maybe all potential jurors should watch this movie to understand what their role as a juror is.

Alf: This was a really great movie, it shows the importance of what "reasonable doubt" is supposed to mean in our judicial system. I would probably be one of the "of course they did it!" people in the movie, but if I were on the other side (the accused) and was innocent, I'd want someone fighting for me in the jury room.

The movie is basically about how one of the jurors wants to do the "right thing" and try to open up discussion about the accused person's guilt or innocence. On the surface it seems that the accused is definitely guilty, but as the discussion evolves they start to poke holes into the prosecution's argument. Personal bias/prejudice comes into play, which would definitely still happen today.

Anyway, I definitely recommend it. It is in black and white, so if you can get past that, you're good to go.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

#15 - Goodfellas (1990), 146 mins.

Alf: This movie, unfortunately, was not as good as I had hoped. It was good, but dragged on a little bit. The story was interesting, it just seemed like it was missing a little something, but I'm not sure what. I liked that the story was told all the way from when Henry was a kid and how he got involved with the Mafia. The movie tried to tell both sides of story, like the romanticized celebrity/gangster lifestyle to the point where he was in jail or struggling for money. Part of the problem for me maybe was age-related. Since the movie was taking place in the late 70s/early 80s, some of the "fancy" stuff that people were buying to make it look like they were leading an extravagant lifestyle, just looks like crap...or maybe that's part of what they were trying to show? These people really didn't know what "rich" stuff looked like, so they just bought a bunch of crap that people were supposed to be jealous of? As far as gangster movies go, I still prefer Carlito's Way and Scarface better. I'm not saying Goodfellas was bad, it was good...just not GREAT.

Beth: So, I was all confused when we sat down to watch this movie. Totally thought it was The Firm. So, it turns out I've never seen Goodfellas before. Since I didn't like The Firm and that's what I thought I was getting myself into, I actually liked this movie a lot. I also liked that it was based on a true story so I feel like I got some sort of an education about gangsters. It was neat to see how people not in the family, get into that stuff. And it didn't actually seem all that violent by today's standards. Sad, but true.

We went from one extreme to the other - surprised by the lack of violence in this story to watching a present-day gansta movie and being surprised by the heightened level of violence in that movie. I don't think I've really seen any other ganster movies so I have nothing to compare but I thought this movie was pretty good.

Watched 11/1/2009