Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 22 - Favorite documentary

Oh boy, another tough one.  I definitely have a favorite documentarian:  Ken Burns.  But how to choose a favorite documentary from his body of work?

I'm gonna go with Jazz (2000).  I really love The Civil War and Baseball too, and all three of those gave me a much deeper appreciation of different aspects of my country's history.  The War was also quite cool, especially since I love learning about WWII.  But of those four, I would rather watch Jazz again before the others.  It gave me a new favorite musician -- Wynton Marsalis -- and helped me understand a lot of the music I would otherwise have shrugged off or ignored.  Thanks to it, I own 4 of Marsalis' albums.  This was pretty much an obvious fit for me, as the trumpet is a huge favorite of mine.

Yeah, I know this is supposed to be about my favorite documentary, not my favorite jazz musician, but I love how Ken Burns picks one really personable, knowledgeable person to sort of anchor his longer documentaries around, be it Shelby Foote in The Civil War or Buck O'Neil in Baseball or Wynton Marsalis in Jazz.  In this case, it led me to develop a taste for Marsalis' music in particular, but the series as a whole is also quite awesome, even if you're not particularly interested in jazz music.  I myself still prefer swing to jazz, but I like jazz a lot better than I used to now that I understand it a little better, and that's definitely thanks to this documentary.

Here's a very young Wynton Marsalis twenty years ago on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, just for the fun of it and cuz I watched this show all the time when I was little.  I'd outgrown it by 1992, but it's still nice to go back and revisit the neighborhood now and then :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 21 - Favorite film from your favorite actor/actress

Finally, a very easy one to answer!

As I said here, my favorite actor is John Wayne and my favorite actress is Maureen O'Hara. While they made five films together, none of those are my favorites from them.  So today I get to talk about two movies in my favorite genre:  Westerns :-D

My favorite John Wayne movie is also my third-favorite movie of all time:  The Sons of Katie Elder (1965).  It tells the story of four brothers, John (John Wayne), Tom (Dean Martin), Matt (Earl Holliman), and Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) Elder, who come to town for their mother's funeral, only to discover that something is quite rotten in Sweetwater, Texas.  They work together to figure out just how their father lost the family ranch and their mother died in poverty, trying to make up for neglecting their parents for so many years.  While doing so, they run into a stellar bunch of character actors, everyone from Paul Fix to George Kennedy to Dennis Hopper.

I had a small version of the poster for this movie hanging up in my living room in our last apartment, but I don't have room for all my pictures in this house, so I had to sacrifice it.  It wasn't a very good poster anyway -- it was a repro and looked like it was printed from somebody's home computer.  Instead, I bought a couple photos from this on Ebay and am in the process of finding a good frame for them to put above my fireplace.

John, Tom, Matt, and Bud Elder

Why do I love The Sons of Katie Elder above all other John Wayne movies?  I think it's the interplay between the brothers, the task of avenging their father's wrongful death, the idea of "we'll do what's right even if we're not the right people to do it."  And the score, by Elmer Bernstein, is fantastic.  You can hear part of the main theme here -- it never fails to bring a goofy grin to my face or brighten my day.

As for my favorite Maureen O'Hara movie, it's The Rare Breed (1966).  It follows British widow Martha (Maureen O'Hara) and her daughter Hilary (Juliet Mills) as they accompany their prize Hereford bull, Vindicator, to his new home in Texas.  They, in turn, are accompanied by Sam "Bulldog" Burnett (James Stewart), who may or may not be planning to actually deliver the bull to its new owner, Alexander Bowan (Brian Keith).  Along the way, they have a couple of nasty run-ins with Harry Carey Jr. and Jack Elam, and eventually join up with Bowan's son Jamie (Don Galloway).  Then winter comes, and Martha and Hilary are stuck at the Bowan ranch in Texas because of all the snow.  Hilary falls in love with Jamie, while both Alex Bowan and Sam Burnett try to win Martha's affections.

A vintage magazine ad for The Rare Breed got chosen as one of the things that would grace my limited wall space here, so you know I'm pretty fond of it.

Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Jimmy Stewart

My love for this movie is all about the cast and characters.  Seeing O'Hara, Stewart, and Keith interact is pure fun, and Mills and Galloway are both sweeties.  This is one of the first westerns I can remember watching, so it was pretty formative of my love for the genre.  The plot isn't stellar, the pacing might be a bit draggy, but I enjoy being along for the ride anyway.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Day 20 - A film you wish someone would make

I wish Hollywood would make more original movies and fewer remakes and sequels and spin-offs.  There's no Casablanca II or The Searchers Return or It's a Wonderful Life 2:  Zuzu Goes to Camp.  If classic Hollywood's filmmakers knew better than to cash in on hits by running them into the ground, why can't modern Hollywood?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Day 19 - The most hilarious film you've seen

If by "most hilarious" you mean "movie that made me laugh until I cried, and still makes me laugh every time I watch it," then I'm going with The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (1966).

This is the story of a Russian submarine that gets stuck on a sandbar outside a tiny New England village because the captain (Theodore Bikel) wanted to see what America looks like.  It makes me imagine what The Hunt for Red October (1990) could have resulted in if Captain Ramius had succeeded in sailing up to the coast and opening his hatch one morning.

Anyway, Lt. Rosanov (Alan Arkin) and a bunch of crewmen come ashore to see if they can beg, borrow, or I suppose steal a boat to get their sub off the sand bar.  The film centers around Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) and his wife Elspeth (Eva Marie Saint), who are vacationing on the little New England island with their two children.  When the Whittakers don't believe Rosanov's claim that the sailors are Norwegians, the Russians pull out their weapons and force them to give up information and the keys to the family car.  Rosanov heads to town to find a boat while one of his men stays behind to guard the Whittakers.

Everyone in town panics when they find out there are Russians Right Here, Attacking Us!  Police Chief Link Mattocks (a superbly tired Brian Keith) and his deputy (Jonathan Winters) try to keep people calm and get them organized, respectively.  In fact, Winters' plea, "We've just got to get organized!" almost made it onto my top ten list of movie quotes the other day.  Through the rest of the movie, the Russians skulk, the Americans bumble, and Walt Whittaker tries to prove to his son he's not a coward or a traitor.

Alan Arkin, Eva Marie Saint, and Carl Reiner, with a couple of smitten teens in the back seat.

None of that sounds terribly funny, does it?  In fact, the same scenario could make for an intense Cold War thriller.  But everything is played for laughs, not fear, with the underlying message that we could all get along if we'd just stop freaking out about the fact that we're supposed to be enemies.

Alan Arkin as Lt. Rosanov
You know how sometimes an actor and a role just seem so perfect for each other that nothing else they ever do seems to quite match up?  Like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow.  As far as I'm concerned, that's the case for Alan Arkin as Lt. Rosanov.  I've seen him do some very good acting in other movies, but nothing has ever seemed quite so right for him as this role.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Day 18 - A film that you wish more people had seen

Um, but not everyone likes every movie.  In fact, I was just discussing this on Facebook with a friend from college -- he and I are both total movie buffs, and yet of the ten movies I quoted yesterday, he'd seen two.

Instead of promoting one film, I'll just suggest that you watch a movie someone has recommended that you thought was totally not something you'd enjoy.  You never know -- you might find you dig it!  And stretching your horizons is always good.

Or you could go read a book.  Also a splendid idea.  See?

Bobby Darin, State Fair (1962)

Johnny Depp, Benny and Joon (1993)

Elijah Wood, Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Rudolph Valentino, The Conquering Power (1921)

Josh Holloway, Lost (2004-2010)

Vic Morrow, Combat! (1962-1967)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Day 17 - Favorite film quote

One?  Hah.  Here are ten, though definitely not in any particular order, as they're all quotes I use a lot and dearly love:

o  "I think you've got the situation pegged, Jake." -- Jason McCullough, Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)

o  "What's the first thing you do when a horse bucks you off?" -- Clancy (Jack Thompson)
"You don't let him beat you, you get straight back on." -- Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson), The Man from Snowy River (1982)

o  "Oh dear, it seems I'm off to a poor start." -- Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), Cars (2006)

o  "Know what 'fat chance' means?" -- Walter Eckland (Cary Grant), Father Goose (1964)

o  "But why is the rum gone?" -- Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

o  "Cowards!" -- Jack Butler (Michael Keaton), Mr. Mom (1983)

o  "I don't know, I'm just making this up as I go." -- Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

o  "It seems he had a very good time." -- Warden Gad Hassan (Omid Djalili), The Mummy (1999)

o  "It's too early in the day for killing princes." -- Achilles (Brad Pitt), Troy (2004)

o  "It's lavish, but I call it home." -- Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), Laura (1944)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Day 16 - Film character you relate to the most

Wow, really?  Again with having to pick just one -- this is really tough, y'all.

Hmm.  One character I relate to more than any other.  Sabrina Fairchild?  Anne Shirley?  Lucy Eleanor Moderatz?  Margy Frake?  Esther Smith?  Fiona Campbell?  John Geyser?  Wolverine?  Joan Wilder?  Evy Carnahan?  Jack Aubrey?  Rachel Lapp?  Mary Horton?  Adrian Balboa?  Justin McLeod?  Eowyn?  Laertes?  Emmett?  Sam Burnett?  Elena Montero?  Jim Craig?  There's some of me in each of them.  Or some of each of them in me.

Okay, if I had to pick just one... I guess I'd pick Evelyn "Evy" Carnahan O'Connell (Rachel Weiscz) from The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001).  She's bookish, intelligent, and brave.  Prettier than me, by far, but she doesn't rely on her looks anyway, she relies on her brain, and that's very me.  I'm shyer than she is, but I think we equal each other in clumsiness -- that scene in The Mummy where she knocks over every single bookshelf?  So me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Jane Eyre" (2011) -- Initial Thoughts

We interrupt this blog absence to post about a movie I wanted to see when it came out months ago.  It wasn't playing anywhere near me, so I had to wait for it to show up in the Redbox machine.  In fact, this is the first movie I've ever rented from Redbox.  Hmm.  Also, it seems the last post I did was about a movie that also starred Michael Fassbender.  Hmm again.

Anyway, a bit of background here.  Jane Eyre is my favorite book.  I used to say it was my third favorite, but I've come to realize that no, I like it better than the others I had deemed my top two, so now it's my favorite.  I don't love everything about it -- the first part can get dull and didactic, and the third part gets somewhat serendipitous and saccharine.  But the middle... ohhhhhhhhh, the middle.  I first read Jane Eyre in high school, probably around the age of 17.  I blame it and Rebecca for my endless enchantment with Byronic Heroes.  Because honestly, I think Mr. Rochester pretty well out-Byronic-Hero-s Manfred.  (Only you fellow English Lit nuts will care or understand, I suppose, but I had to say that.)

Now, as I blogged about here this past spring, I absolutely love the 1983 BBC version of Jane Eyre, starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke.  So I started watching this version knowing that I probably wouldn't like it as well, but hey, it might have its good points too, and anyway, it'd been three months since I last watched an actual movie.  I watched it over three nights because I'm too tired, thanks to Baby Skittles and my two little hooligans, to watch a whole movie in one night.

There are aspects of this version that I quite liked.  I liked the bold choice of where to begin -- with Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) fleeing Thornfield Hall and eventually being rescued by St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his sisters.  We were only inflicted with small flashbacks of her early life, not an hour or so of her being mistreated, and I liked that better than the other version's more strict adherence to the book.  The majority of the movie is a big flashback of Jane's arrival at Thornfield, meeting Mr. Rochester, falling in love, near-marriage, and then hooks up with the flight we saw at the beginning.  That worked pretty well, and it also kept the movie from having too much St. John Rivers in it.  Even though Jamie Bell kept Rivers from being quite as creepy and didactic as he usually comes off (even in the book), he couldn't help the fact that Rivers is priggish and can't hold even a tiny little votive candle to Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender).

Okay, so I liked the framing.  I was not a big fan of some of the cuts they made, however.  Yes, it's hard to turn a great big book into a 2-hour movie (the Dalton/Clarke version runs 4 hours), but they entirely cut out Grace Poole, instead having Adele tell Miss Eyre that Thornfield Hall is rumored to be haunted, and that is then our only hint that something might be amiss or creepy until Mr. Rochester's bed hangings catch fire.  Which, I might add, was an excellently played scene, with him leaping out of bed in much less of a night shirt than I had anticipated, putting out the fire, and then suddenly realizing that pants would be a really good thing to be wearing.

But I digress.  They added in a weird drawing in a hallway that they make a point of having Jane puzzle over a couple of times, but that is never explained, nor does it seem to have any real bearing on anything else that happens.  They cut out almost all of my favorite lines, including my most favorite ("Bigamy is an ugly word, gentlemen.  Well, I meant to be a bigamist."  How could they???).  And the final scene was like two minutes long and ended just when it was getting interesting!  I really hated how they chopped it off so abruptly.  It was very, "Oh, we only get two hours -- sorry, you can't have five more minutes to actually resolve anything here.  Too bad."  Grr.

Now, by and large, Michael Fassbender was an acceptable Mr. Rochester.  Even intriguing at times, though I found him strangely lacking in pizazz.  He was a much colder, more calculating Rochester than I'm used to -- Timothy Dalton is all passion and energy and stomping around in lovely black boots.  Fassbender was more abrupt and reserved, and almost leaned toward creepy once or twice with the way he would just watch Jane, especially at the beginning.  After how angry and broody Fassbender was in X-Men:  First Class, I was really hoping for a more interesting Mr. Rochester.  He did look really great in the period costumes, and there were some scenes where he came delightfully to life, but on a whole, I was disappointed.

As for Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre, the best I can say is she looked intelligent, and they did their best to make her look plain.  Most of the time, she reminded me of Claire Danes as Beth in Little Women (1994), which is not bad, it's just kind of... placid.  Jane Eyre is generally considered to be the first fully realized, realistic, three-dimensional heroine.  Charlotte Bronte created a character who is spunky, but also knows her place in life; who has great sense and feeling, but little knowledge of life; and who is only willing to link herself with someone she considers to be her personal equal, even if he is also miles above her in social standing.  She's not someone who waits around for things to happen -- she's curious, smart, and passionate.  In the 1983 version, Zelah Clarke plays her with humor, grace, and spirit.  In this version, Mia Wasikowska plays her with timidity, humility, and a kind of doe-like fearfulness.

And so, in the end, I was quite disappointed by this version.  The only aspect that did not disappoint me in the least was the presence of Dame Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax -- she was delightful as usual, and a bright spot in every scene she inhabited.  Even if they did give her this lame little speech at the end about how she had no idea the madwoman in the attic was Mr. Rochester's wife.

Which reminds me, I totally need to order this button:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"X-Men: First Class" (2011) -- Initial Thoughts

I went to see this two weeks ago, but haven't been able to motivate myself to blog about it until now.  I think I needed to let my thoughts about it sort themselves out, because at the end of it, I wasn't sure if I liked it or if it was just okay.

So, here's what I think:  the movie as a whole works quite well in and of itself, but as a prequel to the previous X-Men movies, not so much.  The three X-Men movies and Wolverine all maintain a pretty coherent storyline and time line continuity with each other, even if they don't always jive with the original history portrayed in the comics.  So my main quibble with this movie is that it screws up the continuity the other four movies created.

Also, Kevin Bacon?  Really?  In an X-Men movie?  His presence just felt weird, though I'm not sure why. I've seen 3 or 4 Kevin Bacon movies before, and I like him okay, but it just seemed weird to see him in this.

The majority of the mutant characters were acceptable, if not stellar.  The one exception to this was Michael Fassbender as Magneto/Eric Lensherr.  I found him quite compelling, and actually kind of ended up rooting for him against the decidedly bland incarnation of Charles Xavier, James McAvoy.  (McAvoy, to me, looks like the love child of Shia LaBeouf and Tobey Maguire.  Bored now.)  Fassbender's portrayal of Eric Lensherr dripped with anger, regret, and smoldering vengeance.  YUM!

Michael Fassbender as Magneto

Also, I could totally see him growing up to be Ian McKellan.

Sir Ian McKellan as Magneto
But, is it just me, or does Michael Fassbender have a thing for being shot/photographed at a near-sideways angle?  I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Day 15 - Favorite film sequel

At last!  An easy one to answer.  My favorite film sequel is hands down X2:  X-Men United (2003).  The original X-Men (2000) is splendid, but by necessity, it has to spend a lot of time introducing characters, giving you a taste of their back stories, and explaining what their powers are.  They also have to explain about mutants, the human- mutant conflict, and so on.  I have been known to watch a shortened version of X-Men by fast-forwarding through the plot points and watching, I admit it, just the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) parts.  Because long before the movies came out, Wolverine was my favorite X-man.  Far and away my favorite.

But I never fast-forward through parts of X2.  It is magnificently focused, the characters all straining toward a common goal:  not getting annihilated by William Stryker (a pitch-perfect Brian Cox), who once gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and is now on a mission to kill all the mutants in the world.  So instead of fighting other mutants to save the humans, our X-Men are now joining forces with their usual enemies to save each other.  And because most of the main characters were introduced in the first movie, this one gets to spend exploring relationships and letting characters grow and change.

And, because of his former relationship with Stryker, this film naturally focuses a lot on Wolverine and his forgotten past.  Obviously, I love that.  Really, really love that.  In the first movie, Wolvie is in his surly, bad-tempered mode around almost everyone except Rogue.  In this one, he gets to show his quality more, starting with protecting the students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters during a scary night attack on the school.  That part has one of my favorite quotes, which he's saying in this screencap:  "If you're gonna shoot me, shoot me!!!"

It also has this lovely moment with him on one side of an ice wall and Stryker on the other, with Wolvie just starting to remember how they might be connected.  The movie has quite a few nice visuals like this -- I think it's the most visually interesting of all the X-Men movies so far (though I haven't seen First Class yet, though I'm hoping to soon).

The only aspect of this movie I don't like is Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu).

Mostly because she just doesn't make sense.  Wolverine's claws could somewhat conceivably be sheathed in his muscle-bound forearms.  The length works, at least.  But Lady Deathstrike's claws?  No way are they sheathed in her fingers!  Or even, really, her hands.  Just doesn't work for me.  Also, Sabretooth had the my-claws-grow-at-will superpower going on long before she came along, so she's kind of boring.  But I try to ignore her.  

So, yeah, I said this was an easy question to answer.  I didn't say the answer would be short ;-)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Day 14 - A film that you used to love but now hate

I don't know if I can answer this one.  I don't tend to love a movie and then later hate it.  Just like I don't tend to hate a movie and then later love it.  I may grow less fond of a movie over the years, or like other things better, but I pretty much never go from love to hate.  The same goes with books, actors, TV shows... once I like you, I like you.

I guess the closest I can come is Robin Hood:  Prince of Theives.  When it aired on network TV years ago, my dad taped it, editing out all the scenes with the witch in them.  Johnnycake and I lurved that movie and watched it a lot.  We even got little Robin Hood action figures and made this tree fort for them out of paper towel rolls and crochet cotton and crepe paper.  I had a huge crush on Christian Slater because of that movie for quite a few years, and his Will Scarlet is still my favorite part of it.  So sad and angry, and such fabulous hair!

When I got to college, I bought a used copy of the movie on VHS and watched the whole thing, swear words un-dubbed and witch scenes un-removed.  Not nearly as good as the edited version my dad created.  Phooey.  Although I love Robin Hood stories and own three other versions, I ended up giving that one away because it just doesn't please me as much anymore.  I wouldn't mind watching it again sometime if I found it at the library or something, but I'm not in love with it like I once was.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 13 - A guilty pleasure

Love Actually (2003).  Far too many naughty bits for me to ever own it, but I tend to get it from the library every December.  It's kind of a romantic comedy version of Crash (2004), though I guess since that came out a year later, maybe Crash is the dramatic version of Love Actually.  Anyway, it's a series of interconnected vignettes about all kinds of disparate Londoners who each have some kind of love problem in their lives.  I love how deeply some of them delve in just ten or twenty minutes, sprinkled here and there amid other story lines. 

My favorite characters are the widower Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) -- Daniel is grieving over the wife he buries at the beginning of the film, and Sam is grieving too, but he's also falling in love with a fellow grade-schooler.

Neeson and Sangster have a great chemistry as two people finding their way into the new roles they have in each others' lives now that the one person who tied them together is gone.  Every scene of theirs is a delight.

My other favorite couple is The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon).  The bit where he ends up caroling to strangers on Christmas Eve always cracks me up, especially when his driver joins in with a surprising singing voice.

I'm also quite fond of John (Martin Freeman) and Just Judy (Joanna Page).  I can't wait to see Freeman as the new Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit!

Of course, this movie is loaded with famous people, like Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, and oodles more.  It's a great blend of humor and pathos, and makes me alternately cry and laugh every time I watch it, sometimes both in the same scene.  Plus, it's Christmasy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 12 - A film that changed your opinion about something

Hmm.  There are certain movies that I term "important" movies because they really tried to send a message to the viewers of their times.  The three that come to mind at the moment are Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).  But I can't say those changed my mind about anything, as I was already anti-anti-Semitism, convinced parents need to be involved in their kids' lives, and unopposed to mixed-race marriage.

So I guess I'll go with a movie that changed my mind about an actor:  Meet Joe Black (1998).  I mentioned this briefly once before, but all through my high school years, I couldn't stand Brad Pitt.  A couple of my friends were gaga over him in the silliest ways imaginable, and since their previous movie star crushes did not attract or interest me at all, I figured he must be all beefcake and no brain.  I refused to watch any of his movies.  I derided him as a no-talent pretty boy.

But then, during I think my sophomore year of college, some friends convinced me to see Meet Joe Black.  And, to my great surprise, Brad Pitt can act!  And act well, when he wants to.  He's also quite attractive, in a Robert Redford sort of way.  Not that he'll ever top my list of Hottest Movie Stars or anything, but he's fun to watch.

And this movie... it's so nifty!  It's kind of a remake of Death Takes a Holiday (1934), which I've yet to see, though I'd like to 'cuz it stars Frederic March as Death.  So, yeah, this is a movie about Death.  Death decides to see what it's like to be a mortal, so he takes over the body of a young man (who just happens to look exactly like Brad Pitt, good choice), calls himself Joe Black, and tells the next person who was supposed to die that he'll grant him a few extra days if he'll show Death what life is all about.  That person is Bill Parrish, played by the incomparable Anthony Hopkins.  The scenes between Hopkins and Pitt are my favorites, they have a great chemistry, all about antagonism, fear, and curiousity.

Meanwhile, of course, Bill Parrish's daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) falls for Joe Black and teaches him more about life than he'd bargained for.

But the scene that really clinched my change-of-mind about Brad Pitt is the one where Joe Black speaks Creole to an elderly woman who recognizes him for who he really is.  Pitt is amazing there, and the sound of that patois rolling off his tongue is magical.

It's a beautiful film, with gorgeous sets and costumes, not to mention all the pretty people.  And it has some of my favorite quotes -- I can never hear the phrase "death and taxes" without thinking about this movie.  And I love what Bill Parrish says at his birthday party at the end of the movie -- "Sixty-five years... don't they go by in a blink."  I hope I remember to use that line at my own 65th birthday.

The ending always makes me cry, both sad and happy tears.  It's a good one.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 11 - A film that you hate

According to this list I did six years ago, my most-hated movie of all time is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The original.  It's horrible.  I don't even want to think about it.  I can't believe I got talked into watching it, and I wish there was a way to wash images from it out of my mind.  Disgusting.  Avoid at all costs.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Day 10 - Favorite classic film

Er, classic?  Meaning, what, exactly?  Made before 1970?  Made before 1960?  Something everyone's heard of?  Ugh -- this prompt is ticking me off.  What defines a classic, anyway?  Something people want to watch over and over?  Something that gets reshown on TV a lot?  Something art houses dredge up?

I guess this is supposed to be the prompt that gets modern moviegoers to admit they like some really old movie.  So, fine, here is the absolute oldest movie that I love and adore:  The Sheik (1921).

I mentioned here how, as a teen, I developed a disdain for Rudolph Valentino, then later fell head over heels for him once I actually saw him in a movie.  That movie was The Sheik.  It's the movie that rocketed him to megastardom, making him the first true matinee idol.  And if you watch it, it's not hard to see why.  He's mysterious, handsome, and ruthless, but also tender.  Not to mention, he looks great on a horse!

The plot?  It's the stuff fluffy, romantic daydreams are made of :-)  Headstrong, independent Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres) gets captured by Sheik Ahmed ben Hassan (Rudolph Valentino), who imprisons her in his lavish tent in the middle of nowhere, refusing to let her leave until she has, er, submitted to him.  Of course, she refuses -- she hates him, she loathes him, she despises him...

And then she gets captured by a reeeeeeally horrible rival of Ahmed's.  He's not going to do any of this waiting around nonsense like Ahmed.  Of course, by this point Ahmed and Diana are in loooove, though they won't admit it.  So Ahmed rescues Diana, though he gets bonked on the head in the process.

But all's well that ends well :-)

I just realized that I am now the same age Rudy was when he died:  31.  Oh dear.  Poor Rudy.

You can watch The Sheik here for free, and supposedly it's not chopped into segments like it would be on YouTube.  It's part of something called The Video Cellar Collection, oodles of old movies and TV show episodes that are now in the public domain -- go here for a list of what they have.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 09 - The best soundtrack/score to a film

I have more than 50 movie soundtracks on CD.  And I'm supposed to choose a "best" one?  Riiiiiiiight.

Okay, I'm going to go with the soundtrack for my favorite movie, The Man from Snowy River.  It's composed by Bruce Rowland, and I absolutely love it.  In fact, it was playing in the background with both Dano and Mercy were born.  I find it soothing, exciting, restful, and stimulating.  I know every song intimately, and I've been able to play the main theme on the piano from memory since I was 11 or 12.  Beautiful, beautiful music.