Thursday, January 31, 2013

Movie – Amour (2012)

Amour is nominated not only for the Best Picture Oscar, but for Best Foreign Language Film, too.  Adding in its nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress and it seems to be a lock to at least win the Best Foreign Language Film category.  I have not yet seen enough of the Best Actress candidates to have an informed opinion on who should win, but nominee Emmanuelle Riva gives a strong performance in this film.  This is not a happy movie, but it is one that will probably hit close to home for many who see it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Movie – Life of Pi (2012)

Life of Pi is the first Best Picture nominee I’ve seen that I felt was a step above the others, although I’ve still got five more to see.  It wasn’t until the last fifteen minutes of the film that I felt that way, though.  Up until then it had been a decently entertaining movie, but then it took a step up.  I will be discussing this ending in this post, inside a piece clearly marked for spoilers so that you can read the rest of the review and skip over that section if you have not seen the film. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie – Les Miserables (2012)

You should know that this review of Les Miserables is coming from the perspective of someone who has never seen the stage musical.  While I did read the book, it was many years ago and I only remembered a few basics of the story.  This means I should have been coming in relatively new to the entire thing.  Unfortunately, Anne Hathaway spoiled the fates of four of the five major characters for me by relating a filming story on The Daily Show, and then when I later looked at the soundtrack for the film there right in the titles of some of the songs are massive spoilers for what happens in the movie.  Knowing what was going to happen in the film obviously reduced its impact on me, but I still felt the film was worthy of recommending.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie – Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

With the film Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow returns to the region of the world that got her an Oscar for The Hurt Locker.  This time instead of Iraq she is further east in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And while more of this movie focuses on the search for Bin Laden, the last hour of the movie is dominated by the military assault on his headquarters that killed him and captured tons of information.  That is about as far as the comparisons go, though.  Ultimately, Zero Dark Thirty is not as compelling as The Hurt Locker, but it is still a movie worth your time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Well Do You Know Your Oscar Winning Performers? Let’s Find Out.

I’ve finished my Mainers Making Movies category and leading up to Oscar night I am going to review as many of the 2013 Oscar nominated films as I can see and would recommend.  First up will be the nine Best Picture nominees, then a post ranking them, then reviews of other nominees, then my Oscar picks, and finally the Oscar results and observations.  That should cover the next month here at this site.  Before starting on that, though, let’s have some fun.

Sometimes Oscar winners seem to come out of nowhere, but most of the time they have paid their dues in low budget, I-need-the-paycheck kind of movies.  Not everyone can be Meryl Streep who started her film career with Best Picture nominee Julia (1977), Best Picture winner The Deer Hunter (1978), Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979), and Best Picture winner Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).  More often than not they were like Oscar nominee Johnny Depp who was in the teen sex comedy Private Resort (1985) early in his career.

Let’s see how well you know the early careers of some of the more recent Oscar winners.  Below you will find two columns.  On the left are the names of Oscar winners.  On the right are the names of the not-quite-Oscar-worthy movies that they were in before they won their Oscars.  Match each person in the first column with their movie in the second column.

Note: you will see a set of three movies grouped together as a single choice.  That is because one performer was in all three.

Hint: alphabetical order has already lined up three of the answers for you.

Alan Arkin
Age of Consent
Sandra Bullock
Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman
George Clooney
BMX Bandits
Marion Cotillard
Calypso Heat Wave
Clint Eastwood
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
Morgan Freeman
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
Angelina Jolie
Cyborg 2
Nicole Kidman
Grizzly 2: The Concert
Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
Return to Horror High
Heath Ledger
The Next Karate Kid
Helen Mirren
Hilary Swank
Revenge of the Creature
Charlize Theron
My Sex Life…or How I Got into an Argument
Billy Bob Thornton
Tag: The Assassination Game
Marisa Tomei
The Toxic Avenger
Forrest Whitaker
Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow!

Answer Summary: 1-D, 2-B, 3-H, 4-L, 5-K, 6-O, 7-G, 8-C, 9-J, 10-A, 11-I, 12-E, 13-F, 14-N, 15-M


1.  Alan Arkin (winner for Little Miss Sunshine) was in Calypso Heat Wave (1957)
2.  Sandra Bullock (winner for The Blind Side) was in Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989)
3.  George Clooney (winner for Syriana) was in Grizzly 2: The Concert (1987), Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988), and Return to Horror High (1987)
4.  Marion Cottilard (winner for La vie en rose) was in My Sex Life…or How I Got into an Argument (1996)
5.  Clint Eastwood (winner for directing Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) was in Revenge of the Creature (1955)
6.  Morgan Freemen (winner for Million Dollar Baby) was in Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow! (1971)
7.  Angelina Jolie (winner for Girl, Interrupted) was in Cyborg 2 (1993)
8.  Nicole Kidman (winner for The Hours) was in BMX Bandits (1983)
9.  Heath Ledger (winner for The Dark Knight) was in Paws (1997)
10. Helen Mirren (winner for The Queen) was in Age of Consent (1969)
11. Hilary Swank (winner for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby) was in The Next Karate Kid (1994)
12. Charlize Theron (winner for Monster) was in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
13. Billy Bob Thornton (winner for writing Sling Blade) was in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)
14. Marisa Tomei (winner for My Cousin Vinny) was in The Toxic Avenger (1984)
15. Forrest Whitaker (winner for The Last King of Scotland) was in Tag: The Assassination Game (1982)

How well did you do?

Zero Correct – You apparently only watch good movies.  Congratulations.
1-5 Correct – You’ve seen a few cult movies, or tracked down all the movies your favorite performer was ever in.
6-10 Correct – You’ve seen a ton of movies and have a great memory.
11-14 Correct – You scare me a little bit.
All 15 Correct – So there is an app for that.

Finally, it’s not just bad movies that performers start out their careers with.  Sometimes they are also in music videos.  You should recognize this teenager in Meat Loaf’s 1989 music video Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie – Charlotte’s Web (1973)

I may be wrong, but I am almost certain that Charlotte’s Web is the very first movie I ever saw in a theater.  For reasons now unknown to me my elementary school class was taken to see it.  I remember all of us kids running in and immediately heading right down to the front row.  I didn’t actually know why we were there (never having seen a movie in a theater before), but I could sense the excitement from the other kids.  I was surprised when the movie started, but quickly got wrapped up in it.  I remember all of us kids both laughing at some of the antics, especially those of the rat (whose voice I recognized as Paul Lynde from Hollywood Squares), and crying at a scene at the end.  At some point years later I did watch this again as an adult, but my memories of having seen it as a child are actually the ones that are more solid in my mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Movie – Empire Records (1995)

Empire Records is one of those movies I watched back in the day not expecting much of anything and ended up being pleasantly surprised by it.  It probably didn’t change anyone’s lives, but it is a solidly entertaining movie.  It features a large ensemble cast of familiar faces, especially if you are a fan of TV crime dramas of the 2000s.  Among the cast is Liv Tyler, who although not born in Maine, has credited her upbringing here for keeping her grounded in Hollywood.  This film is one of the very first that she ever did.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Movie – The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

I was originally going to review a different movie for Judd Nelson, but after watching The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day as part of prepping for my just-posted review of the first film, I saw that Nelson had a role in the sequel and it seemed fitting to review the two films back to back; the first for Mainer Bob Marley and the second for Mainer Judd Nelson.  Marley fans, don’t fear; he is also back for the sequel.  In fact, most everybody from the first film reprises their roles in the second, even though it took ten years for it to finally make it to the big screen.  The result is a lot of fun for fans of the first movie.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Movie – The Boondock Saints (1999)

Several years ago I used to occasionally do searches on IMDB for films that had been rated by at least 20,000 people and then look through the ones I hadn’t watched to pick something that looked interesting.  This was how I discovered The Boondock Saints.  I had never even heard of the film before and it was only later that I found out that this movie, which features a bunch of gun violence, was originally due to be released just after the Columbine shootings occurred.  Because of this the film was first delayed, then had some scenes censored, then ended up getting released for only a week in a small number of theaters.  It was only after it got released on DVD that people discovered it and the word of mouth started to spread.  And the word of mouth was so strong that it managed to get a sequel made ten years after this film was almost consigned to sit on a studio’s shelf forever.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie – The Green Mile (1999)

Quick quiz: what is the only Stephen King adaptation to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office?  Quick quiz #2: what is the movie that King considers to be the most faithful adaptation of his works?  If you didn’t answer "The Green Mile" then you didn’t read the title to this post.  The “green mile” refers to a condemned man’s walk from his death row cell to the electric chair that will take his life.  We come to realize during the movie that the title is also a metaphor for another character’s journey.  Director Frank Darabont had previously filmed King’s novel The Shawshank Redemption, so he had no trouble getting the go ahead to do this one.  The result competes with Shawshank as my favorite movie ever made from a Stephen King work.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie – Up in the Air (2009)

Up in the Air was nominated for six Oscars in 2010, including Best Picture.  Long before I had been working on seeing all the Best Picture nominees in Oscar history I had been trying to see every newly nominated film each year.  Somehow I never got around to seeing Up in the Air back in 2010.  I finally saw it about a year ago and kicked myself for waiting so long because I loved it.  It is both heartfelt and funny, both touching and bittersweet.  I had liked director Ivan Reitman’s prior two films (Thank You for Smoking and Juno) and this one seemed to combine the best elements of both of them.  And Up in the Air also contains what might be George Clooney’s best performance.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Movie – MASH (1970)

This review is going to be about MASH the movie, not the long-running television series.  If you didn’t know that the TV show originally was a movie then you may be surprised by what you see.  Both were originally based on the 1968 “Richard Hooker” novel of the same name.  (More on “Hooker” a little later, including why I have the name in quotes.)  The year that MASH the movie (hereinafter known simply as MASH) came out, the film Catch-22 also came out.  The latter was expected to be the more successful of the two, based on the people making it, but MASH proved to be the one that had more lasting success.  Both show the craziness of war, Catch-22 for World War II and MASH for Korea.  I like both films quite a bit.  (You can read my review of Catch-22 here.)  Of the two, MASH is the more realistic film, having been based on the author’s real experiences during the Korean War.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Movie – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon is often named as the first true film noir to come out of Hollywood.  This is debatable, especially since this story had already been adapted twice before from Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel, first in 1931 under the same title and then in 1936 as Satan Met a Lady.  Noir isn’t just about the story, though, but also about the mood and presentation in the film.  Whatever the case, this film proved to be extraordinarily influential on the entire noir genre which would explode onto screens in the 1940s.  In addition to being nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, The Maltese Falcon proved to be very popular with audiences, too.  So much in fact, that the studio decided to put Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre together in another film.  The result?  Casablanca.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie – The Searchers (1956)

I’ve never really been one to declare “Best Movie Ever” kinds of films, whether overall or in genres.  This is partially from having seen so many good movies I really don’t want to have to pick a best among them, and partially because my opinion would vary depending on when I was asked to name one.  The Searchers is certainly a movie that many people have named the best film ever made in the Western genre.  I will say that there have certainly been times where I would agree with that.  What I can state is that I consider this film to contain the best film performance I’ve seen from its star John Wayne.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Movie – Enchanted (2007)

The animated/live action combination Disney movie Enchanted was very popular with audiences, cemented Patrick Dempsey’s transition to romantic leading man, and made a star of Amy Adams at the almost geriatric Hollywood actress age of 33.  The movie is a loving parody/tribute to all the Disney films that preceded it, especially the Princess ones.  The tone of the movie is not as mean-spirited as the Shrek films, though.  Instead of making fun of fairy tales themselves it mines humor from juxtaposing fairy tale characters with the very real world of New York City.  The result is something both children and adults can enjoy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Movie – The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

The Ox-Bow Incident, both novel and movie, made large impacts when they came out.  The novel was the first book published by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, a man born in Maine and who was well-traveled by the time it was published.  He was an educator by trade and this novel was hailed as “real” writing – a reaction books in the western genre had never received before.  Because of the subject matter in the novel, though, it was a difficult path to getting the movie made.  Even when completed it sat for months because the studio didn’t know how to market it.  When it finally did come out it received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  It is also one of two films from the early part of his career (The Grapes of Wrath being the other) that Henry Fonda has said he is really proud of.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is famously the first feature length, fully animated motion picture that was ever made.  (The German film The Adventures of Prince Achmed preceded it, but that was animated in silhouette only.) Walt Disney had specialized in the animated shorts that would run before the main picture, including winning an Oscar for Three Little Pigs in 1934 (more on that in a bit.)  He decided he wanted to be the main attraction and committed himself and his studio to the huge amount of work it would take to draw and color all of the cells needed for a movie ten times the length of the average short.  And it wasn’t just the images, but also the music that would need to cover the much longer length.  For this Disney turned to Frank Churchill, a man he had been collaborating with since 1930.  The result was magic and Disney films became known not only for their animation, but for the music that accompanied them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Oscar Nominations and Observations

The Oscar nominations were announced a couple weeks early this year.  I wasn’t expecting them until more towards the end of this month.  I just started a big movie category, thinking I had some time before I would be starting my Oscar nominated films reviews.  I’ve decided that at this point I will do this post that lists every nomination and then drills a little deeper into some trends and fun facts.  I will then finish my current movie category (Mainers Making Movies) before starting my reviews of Oscar films.

The 2013 Oscar nominations were announced a few hours ago.  Going down through them I didn’t see any really huge surprises among the Best Picture nominees, but the Best Director category was another matter.  Here are the nine Best Picture nominees:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

I will post reviews for as many of these movies as I can prior to the Oscar telecast on February 24th.  At this point I have seen only one of the nine.  I will also post my predictions in the days leading up to the ceremony.

Click “Read more” for a complete list of the nominees, what got the most nominations, and some other things of interest.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movie – A Place in the Sun (1951)

One thing I should mention right off the bat is that although this movie stars a young Elizabeth Taylor, known at the time for her Lassie, Father of the Bride, and National Velvet films, A Place in the Sun is not a happy, lightweight movie.  This was Taylor’s first foray into making serious films and it was also her first real adult role.  Lead actor Montgomery Clift, on the other hand, was already an Oscar-nominated performer.  Clift would receive another nomination for this role – one of nine for the film.  It would win six Oscars in all, including Best Director and Best Screenplay (co-adapted from Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy by Maine’s Harry Brown – future screenwriter of Oceans Eleven).  Taylor did not receive a nomination, but co-star Shelley Winters did for playing a woman caught up in a bad situation with Clift’s character.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Movie – The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)

There is a group of Americans, all within a 10-15 year age range, that grew up watching The Brady Bunch TV show, either as it was broadcast, or in syndication afternoons after school.  I am one of them.  This show was hugely popular among my friends and we wouldn’t think about missing an episode.  It had jokes for kids, a fantasy goodie-goodie blended family when so many of our own families were breaking up, and it had a happy resolution at the end of every episode.  Yes, even as kids we knew it was corny, but that didn’t matter; it’s what we wanted, and sometimes even needed, to see.  Flash forward twenty years and a movie version of the show was done.  It was hugely liked by the people in this demographic…and left most everyone else scratching their heads as to what the heck they were watching.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mainers Making Movies

“You can’t get there from here."  - Legendary advice from native Mainer to person ‘from away’ who stopped to ask for directions

I’ve mentioned a few times on this site that I am from Maine.  For the non-Americans (and for those Americans that haven’t looked at a map in years because they have GPS), Maine is the state in the northeastern corner of the country.  It is located as far as you can get from Hollywood and still be in the continental United States.  Combine this with a total state population which is less than many U.S. cities, and the number of Maine people who have made a name for themselves in movies is small enough for me to cover a key dozen or so with this category.

I knew of some Maine movie people off the top of my head like John Ford, who actually followed his older brother Francis to Hollywood.  Francis has nearly 500 acting credits on his resume, and also directed almost 200 silent movies, but he never achieved the fame of his younger brother.  To bolster my knowledge, though, I did some research on IMDB and found well over 400 people born in Maine who have movie credits.  Some credits are the kind that don’t really lend themselves to a single movie review (i.e. James Pierpont, who wrote the song Jingle Bells, which has appeared in thousands of movies.)  More modern Maine songwriters with movie credits include Juliana Hatfield, Howie Day, and Patty Griffin.

Other credits I can’t use are for people mostly known for their television work.  These include Victoria Rowell (The Young and the Restless), Noah Gray-Cabey (Heroes), Andrea Martin (SCTV), Linda Lavin (Alice), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld), David E. Kelley (creator of Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and many other shows), Erin Andrews (sports reporter), Stephanie Niznik (Everwood), Anna Belknap (CSI: NY), and Katie Aselton (The League).

And while Maine has had many writers, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe, it’s the more modern ones such as E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little), Richard Hooker (MASH), and of course, Stephen King, who have had the largest impact on movies.

There is a long-standing maxim among many Mainers that you have to be born here to be a “real” Mainer, and when people say it they are usually at least half serious.  While I don’t necessarily subscribe to it I will be bypassing such people as Glenn Close, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Jonathan Frakes, Stockard Channing, David Morse, and many others who live part of their year in Maine.  However, I am going to include Liv Tyler, E. B. White, and Richard Hooker.  Although not born in Maine, Tyler was brought up here and she has often credited that upbringing with keeping her grounded when dealing with all the craziness of Hollywood.  White made his home in Maine and raised his family here, including noted Maine Naval architect Joel White.  Hooker (real name H. Richard Hornberger) settled in Maine after serving in the Korean War and saved many lives as a thoracic surgeon in Mid-Maine Medical Center in Waterville, Maine.

Some Mainers that I know of I can’t include simply because I haven’t seen the movies related to their work, or what I have seen is not something I would recommend.  This includes Laurence Trimble (directed over 100 silent films), Charles W. Goddard (wrote The Perils of Pauline, which every cliffhanger owes a debt to), Kevin Eastman (co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 2011’s Conan the Barbarian), and Althea Currier (star of some early Russ Meyer films). 

Finally, I was amused to find out that there are even some Mainers in the adult film industry.  Among others they include director Jake Malone and actress/model Jayme Langford.

As I post the reviews, I will come back and add links to the movie reviews associated with each one:

Actor Christopher Daniel Barnes – The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
Screenwriter Harry Brown – A Place in the Sun (1951)
Songwriter Frank Churchill – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Writer Walter Van Tilburg ClarkThe Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Actor Patrick Dempsey – Enchanted (2007)
Director John Ford – The Searchers (1956)
Actress Gladys George – The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Writer “Richard Hooker” – MASH (1970)
Actress Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air (2009)
Writer Stephen King – The Green Mile (1999)
Comedian/Actor Bob Marley (not the reggae singer) – The Boondock Saints (1999)
Actress Liv Tyler – Empire Records (1995)
Writer E. B. White – Charlotte's Web (1973)

On to the reviews…

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Second Anniversary…ish

I am celebrating my second anniversary – my blogging one, that is.  I have now been at this whole “blogging thing” for two years now.  According to those people who care enough to make up and track these things, this is my cotton anniversary.  While that still sounds weird, at least it isn’t as out of place as last year’s.  That was a paper anniversary – for an endeavor that is completely paperless.

It’s been quite an interesting experience.  There have been lows (writing what you feel is a great post and getting zero comments) and there have been highs (someone letting you know they loved a movie they watched because of your recommendation.)

Some of you may be saying, “Hold on there, Chip.  What do you mean your second anniversary?  Didn’t that happen, like, a week ago, or isn’t it still a week away?  I think your calendar is a little off.”

Yes, I did my first posts on December 29th, 2010, but I do not consider that the start of my blogging.  I did the posts as the first step in choosing what designs I wanted for the blog, how I wanted the text to appear, trying inserts of photos, links, etc.  I had to decide on ads or no ads.  I had to figure out how to do the Amazon links.  I had to plan out how I was going to work with the Labels to make it easier for people to find things that interest them.

I finally sent out a link to some friends on January 6th, 2011 and asked them to take a look and let me know what they thought.  I got almost zero responses, so I took a couple of days to rethink, and then finally started blogging for real with some new posts on January 11th, 2011.  Last year, because I wanted to finish my Harry Potter reviews first, I didn’t do my One Year Anniversary post until January 13th.  That means my anniversary can be Dec 29th, Jan 6th, or Jan 11th, and last year I celebrated it on Jan 13th.  That makes this Jan 5th post an “ish” anniversary.

I’m doing this post now because I wanted to combine it with an announcement on my Lists from Chip site.  Had I left them separate I would have ended up with five consecutive posts that were basically just chatting.  This way I can move on a little quicker to my next movie category – Mainers Making Movies.

Speaking of Lists from Chip, I just finished a complete update of the entire site.  All 66 tracking sheets, with 225 separate movie lists organized by ranking, alphabet, chronology, or genre, are freshly re-uploaded with the latest information.  This includes the major ones like the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, They Shoot Pictures Don’t They, Oscar Winners and Nominees, Golden Globes, and others. 

It also includes other interesting lists like the 2012 Sight & Sound polls, the movies in the United States National Film Registry, the Independent Spirit Awards, Time Magazine’s top films, a 15 Year Consolidated and Weighted IMDB Top 250, and many others. 

And have you ever wanted to expand your movie knowledge beyond just what comes out of Hollywood?  If so, there are tracking sheets for the BAFTAs, Cesars, Genies, Ariels, Guldbagges, Golden Horses, Grand Bells, Goyas, Palm d’Ors, Golden Lions, and many others – 25 countries, two pan-continental awards, and five major film festivals in all.

You can visit my Lists from Chip site to view or download these tracking sheets by clicking here or by clicking on the “Lists from Chip” link on the upper right of this site.

I’d like to thank everyone who have become Followers and/or who have been reading my posts.  Hopefully you have found them informative and/or entertaining.  If you really like a post, please share it with your friends.  My recent post on The Hobbit, or a Pox on People Who Bring Babies to Theaters was quite popular.

Finally, for the stats people (you know who you are), here are some numbers for my two years blogging:

Number of total posts: 546
Average posts per month: 23

Number of movie related posts:  411
Number of movie reviews:  327
Number of book reviews:  40
Number of hike reviews:  38
Number of humor posts:  40
Number of TV show reviews:  17
Number of website reviews:  4
Number of golf course reviews:  1
Number of discussion starters:  6

My ten most viewed posts are:

  1. Humor - Look-alike Celebrities
  2. Hike - Mount Battie and Megunticook Mountain
  3. Book and TV - Game of Thrones
  4. Book and Movie - The Princess Bride (1987)
  5. Movies Where Charlize Theron Does Not Get Naked
  6. Movie - The Ides of March (2011)
  7. Humor - Do You Have a Dirty Mind?
  8. Humor - World War II Social Networking
  9. Hike - Cadillac Mountain, North Ridge
  10. Movie - Hugo (2011)
Of the nearly 90,000 views this site has received (72,000 in 2012 alone), almost half are from the U.S.  This is followed by The U.K., Russia, Canada, Germany, Australia, India, Sweden, France, and Brazil.  I don’t know any bloggers in Russia, nor have I ever had any commenters from Russia, so I’m not sure what’s up with that country being third highest.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Discussion Starter – Has a Prior Role Affected How You Saw Someone in Another Movie?

I’ve had a movie category brainstormed for quite a while, but I was never happy with how I should go about presenting it.  I named it Double Features to Mess with Your Head.  I was going to pair movies that had people playing roles that were so different that seeing them back to back could, well, mess with your head.  Think Ben Kingsley in Gandhi and Sexy Beast, Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Election, or Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire and Downfall.

Rather than continue to sit on this until I maybe someday felt comfortable with how to pair them up, I thought I would try reviving a feature I tried in 2012 – Discussion Starters.  I may still do this category in the future, but for right now I figured I would write about a couple examples where I was affected, and then ask you folks if you ever had experiences like that.  If so, maybe some of your stories will inspire me on how to best go about doing this category.

Some people end up getting typecast into the same roles in movie after movie (i.e. Meg Ryan).  When they try to go against type it usually doesn’t work.  I’m not really referring to those kinds of roles.  I am referring to single movies where someone played a character and it later impacted how you saw another character of theirs in another movie.  Here is my number one example: Louise Fletcher.

Some of you might not know who she is, while others of you might have just shouted “Nurse Ratched!”  If you are the latter, my apologies if the people sitting near you are now looking at you funny.  For those not familiar with her, she played a character of that name in the 1975 Oscar winning Best Picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  She won an Oscar herself for Best Actress.  In this role she plays an iron-handed nurse who constantly thwarts Jack Nicholson’s fake mental patient character.  This movie is a personal nightmare for me because it shows a man trapped somewhere he is not supposed to be and not being able to get anyone to listen to him or believe him.  Nurse Ratched is a major reason why he is trapped there. 

Fletcher did such a good job playing such an evil character that after seeing this movie I unfortunately continued to have a negative reaction to her when I saw her in other roles.  She didn’t even have to speak; I would just see her appear onscreen and I would tense up a little bit.

Sometimes it is a pairing of roles that has affected me.  The 2005 movie The Squid and the Whale was widely praised.  I watched it and the casting of two of the roles bothered me so much if prevented me from liking the movie.  The two people involved were Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin.

In 1996 they had starred together in the movie Fly Away Home.  She played his adolescent daughter.  In addition to being a sweet movie, I also liked it because it was one of the rare (nowadays anyway) films that showed an actual, positive father/daughter relationship.  Most movies and TV shows now show fathers that are at best emotionally distant or children themselves and at worst molesters or abusers.

Flash forward a few years and the two are cast together again in The Squid and the Whale, but this time as college professor and his student.  She initiates a sexual relationship with him by, among other things, telling him, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to fuck you.”  Despite this, a later scene shows her reluctant to have sex and while Daniels’ character is not out and out physically forcing her, he is really pressuring her to have sex and she is pleading that she doesn’t want to.

Of course I know that they are not father and daughter in real life, but I liked their first pairing so much that I just couldn’t reconcile it with their roles in the later movie.  I saw an interview with Paquin where she was asked if it was difficult to do the scenes in the second film.  While not directly answering the question, she did say that she thought it had bothered Daniels more than it had her.  For what it’s worth, writer/director Noah Baumbach apparently caught flack from other people about this as well because he issued a disclaimer that he was unaware of their prior film together when he cast them in his movie.

So there are two examples from me.  Have you ever seen someone be so memorable as a character in a single film that you just couldn’t completely disregard it in other films, as I did with Louise Fletcher?  Have you ever had two people paired together in multiple films and you just couldn’t reconcile one set of roles to the other set, as I did with Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

December and 2012 Movie Status

December Summary:

I saw 76 movies in the month of December, plus one TV mini-series, plus one movie re-watch.  I achieved my goal of completing the entire AFI consolidated list of movies (412 in all).  It wasn’t easy finding some of the last ones left, but I managed to squeak it in just before the end of the year.  I had started on AFI’s first two lists years ago, but then didn’t really bother with all the rest that they issued afterwards.  During the summer this year I noticed that I was down to only about 40 remaining to see and I started a concerted effort to finish them off by the end of 2012.  If you would like to see this consolidated list and/or get a tracking sheet of your own, you can find it here.

In regards to hard to find AFI movies I want to single out one of them.  1959’s Porgy and Bess (#92 on AFI’s Top 100 Passions list) was shown on TV once in the 1960s, and then withdrawn from circulation in 1974 over copyright and content squabbles.  It has never been legally released on either VHS or DVD.  If you’ve got a copy, hang onto it.  The version I saw was the one shown on TV in the 1960s, which had around 15 minutes cut out of it for the broadcast.  This is pretty much the only version that can be found (it runs 2 hours).  If you live near New York City then keep an eye on film festivals.  A collector in that area owns an uncut print and every few years he allows it to be shown at a film festival.

Currently, the two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from are the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and a list I put together of every Oscar Best Picture nominee.  You can see those lists by clicking on these titles:  1,001 Movies; Oscar Nominees.  I passed being 75% complete on both of these lists in December. 

I’d like to thank Siobhan (aka siochembio) at Film Flammers for loaning me a whole box of DVDs from the 1,001 Movies list.  They were close to half my total for the month.  When you get a chance, check out her site.  She saw many of the 1,001 Movies years ago, and then hit a dry spell.  This year, though, she has gotten her second wind and has not only returned to watching the films on the list, but has increased the reviews she has been writing for the rest of us, too.

Here are the 76 new movies I saw in December.  Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.  I will single out the four and five star films, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.

1,001 Movies (44): Le Million (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Pepe le Moko (1937), Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1931), Murder My Sweet (1944), I Know Where I’m Going (1945), My Darling Clementine (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1948), Orpheus (1949), Pickup on South Street (1953), Ugetsu (1953), High Society (1956), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Repulsion (1965), Get Carter (1971), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Last Wave (1977), The Defiant Ones (1958), L’Atalante (1934), The Last Battle (1983), The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939), Diary of a Country Priest (1951), A Man Escaped (1956), Before the Revolution (1964), Tokyo Olympiad (1965), Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), Fires Were Started (1943), The Spider’s Stratagem (1970), The Ear (1970), Ringu (1998), Open Your Eyes (1997), Taste of Cherry (1997), Ali Zaoua, Prince of the Streets (2000), What Time Is It Over There? (2001), The Piano Teacher (2001), The Cranes Are Flying (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), The Son’s Room (2001), A Tale of the Wind (1988), Winter Light (1963), W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), L’Argent (1983)

Oscar Nominees (7): Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Airport (1970), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Alfie (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Lady for a Day (1933)

AFI Movies (11): Fame (1980), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Sophie’s Choice (1982), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Paper Chase (1973), Morocco (1930), Show Boat (1936), Anna Karenina (1935), Porgy and Bess (1959), Cape Fear (1962), A Cry in the Dark (1988)

Other Movies (14): La Bete Humaine (1938), Help for the Holidays (2012), Christmas Matchmaker (2012), Airport 1975 (1974), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), Le Plaisir (1952), Arthur Christmas (2011), Ponyo (2008), Listen to Britain (1942), Killer Joe (2012), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), The Debt (2011), La Ronde (1950),

Re-watches (1): Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

TV Series (1): Planet Earth

I had no new five star films in December.  My four star films were Trouble in Paradise (1932), La Bete Humaine (1938), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Arthur Christmas (2011), Show Boat (1936) and Lady for a Day (1933).  Trouble in Paradise is a really fun movie about con artists made just before the Hays Code started to be enforced.  La Bete Humaine is a Jean Renoir movie based on an Emile Zola story.  It stars Jean Gabin and Simone Simon.  It was made in the late 1930s and anticipates one of the big genres that came along in the 1940s.  I don’t want to give away too much about it.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame is yet another classic film from 1939.  Charles Laughton stars as the title character.  Any other year and this film would have cleaned up at the Oscars.  Arthur Christmas is a fun Christmas movie from Aardman Animation.  It brings the Santa story into the modern day, while still reminding us about the joy of the holiday.  The 1936 version of Show Boat is generally considered the best version of the musical.  (There was a partial sound version in the late 1920s and a color version in the 1950s.)  I wasn’t expecting the depth of emotion in the film.  I was expecting “just a musical.”  I still catch myself repeating the lyrics to some of the songs from this film in my head.  And man could Paul Robeson sing.  Lady for a Day is an early Frank Capra film.  I know some people hate his movies for being so positive, but I am not one of them.  I like happy movies and I liked this one a lot.  A woman who has been pretending to be well-to-do so her away-at-boarding-school daughter will not be ashamed of her suddenly has to act the part now that her daughter is bringing her fiancée with her so the families can meet.

With over 70 movies watched in December, I did see my share of stinkers.  I won’t mention all of them, but I will single out one.  What Time Is It Over There? (2001) is not a horrible movie, but it is an aimless one and I just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of film when I saw it.  It is another of the head scratchers from the 1,001 Movies list.

2012 Summary:

In 2012 I saw 581 movies that were new to me.  Among those 581 films, 317 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 72 were Best Picture nominees.  Prior to 2012 I never explicitly tracked the films I watched, so I do not know how this year stacks up to other movie watching years for me.  My guess is that it is a larger number than usual.  My decision in February to actively start working on the 1,001 Movies list, and with it the resumption of watching Oscar nominated films and the movies from the AFI list, gave me incentive to see more movies.

This year I completed the consolidated IMDB 14 year Top 250 list that I had been building over the years (524 movies in total).  I also completed the consolidated AFI movies list.  I went from just under half complete to just over three quarters complete on the 1,001 Movies list.  I finished off all the 1990s and 1980s Oscar Best Picture nominees that I had not already seen, and took a big cut out of the 1970s.

I saw forty-four 2012 movies during the year.  The best of them all was The Avengers.  It is the only 2012 movie I’ve given five stars to so far.  (Note: I have not seen any of the late 2012 Oscar-bait movies yet.)  You can read my very positive review of The Avengers here.  Two other very good 2012 movies are Safety Not Guaranteed (my review) and Moonrise Kingdom.  Note: I do a Top 10 of the prior year in late February/early March (after doing my Oscars posts) because it gives me a chance to see most of the late year movies before compiling a list.

I haven’t seen any really horrible 2012 movies yet – something I would give one star to.  A few of the worst that I saw are This Means War, Battleship, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Looking ahead into 2013, in theory I should be able to complete the 1,001 Movies list before the end of the year.  That’s based on keeping up the same pace of watching that I had in 2012 and I don’t know if I will do that.  At some point I am going to have end my sabbatical and re-enter the workforce and when I do that will cut into the time I will have free to watch films and write about them.

I think I probably will not complete the Oscar Best Picture Nominees in 2013.  Technically, it’s impossible to complete the list because one film has no surviving prints and two others exist only in single prints kept in the UCLA Archives.  Aside from those, I’m working on the Oscars list at a slower pace than the 1,001 Movies list, so even though I’ve got only 122 left here, compared to 253 of the 1,001 Movies, I think only the 1,001 Movies will be complete by the end of the year.  We’ll see.

And I am working on integrating the 2012 year end IMDB Top 250 list into my consolidated and weighted tracking sheet.  It will now span 15 years.  There are eleven films appearing on the list for the first time, five of which I have not seen yet.  I will watch those as they become available.  I will be placing the new 15 year spanning list on my Lists from Chip site when it is ready.  I am also updating all the other tracking sheets there, as well as adding some new ones (i.e. Sight and Sound, National Film Registry).  When I have these updates complete I will make a post here announcing it.