Friday, March 9, 2012

Movies 101 - 8 1/2

- 138min – No rating

This is a movie about a director who is trying to find the next big idea. He is finished with one successful film and is feeling the pressure to continue the success in this next picture. He has no idea what the movie is going to be about but has to deal with people hammering him for information. As a way to escape the pressures of work, his relationships and his life he slips into memoires and fantasies. It is hard to be brilliant on command, inspiration comes when it comes. This movie shows us a side of creating art that people sometimes forget.

I like films about people who make movies. I have worked on films and directed short films so I can relate to the pressures of being brilliant again in this movie. I tried to watch this was I was younger and I did not get it at all. Seeing it at this time in my life I have a new appreciation for it. Like the character I find myself escaping into my mind during the boring aspects of my own life. I remember several companywide meetings where I was off on another planet sliding down a hand rail with a phaser in each hand defending the cat people from the lizard man invasion. I am more of a geek than this character was.

Federico Fellini started out in a neorealist style of storytelling and 8 ½ is the film that started defining the hyperbolic “Fellini” signature of surrealism. The title of the film represents the number of films he has worked on at the time of this production. This movie is his 8th and half production. (You apparently get a half credit by co directing a film)

My take away:

The Fellini style is now clearer to me, I understood it from context but I have never experienced it. Walking through a story and mixing real life with what is going on in a characters head can be hard to follow but it allows you to see what the character is feeling and thinking about. A reviewer said that this story is almost too intimate because it shows us what is going on in the film makers head.

I watched this film on NetFlix watch it now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Movies 101 - The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows – 99 min – No rating

This film was about a young boy growing up in Paris. We see the events that lead him down the path of criminal delinquency. His parents were completely oblivious to his needs because of their selfishness. He lives with them in a small apartment. His parents both work and make no time for their son. The teacher only sees him as a trouble maker and it turns out to be a self fulfilling prophecy.

It was completely heartbreaking to watch. I was so saddened by the plight of the main character. He was the product of his environment. The last shot where he is running on the beach a truly honest feeling of freedom contrast with the prison of circumstances of his life in Paris. It was a beautifully done picture.

The style of the film is described as French New Wave. From what I read it is very raw storytelling. The films are low budget and are shot with just the barest of support. When I think of Independent film I think of movies like this where it was one small group of people who have a wonderful story to tell and are not bogged down the by the studio system. The subjects of these films are usually of real people in real situations without the fake storybook imagery of traditional cinema.

My take away:

The French New Wave style is focused on true story telling and had some passionate people involved in its birth. They had shoe string budgets and were dedicated to the story. They made some bold edit choices based on style and sometimes finical restrictions.

I watched this on Hulu and they have some really great movies in their Criterion collection section.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Movies 101 list of 102 movies you need to see

I have been looking around at other reviewer’s suggestions on what I should include in my repertoire as far as need to see or read to improve my Reviewer Fu. One of my favorites has this list of 102 films as a primer to have an informed discussion on movies. By the by I would love to have an informed discussion on movies with him.

There are also some people who suggest a number of books to read and study, but while I am doing that I am going to try my hand at the following list. I am going to watch all of them, and rearrange the list so I watch the ones I have seen at the end. I am not going to review them fully but I am going to jot down a quick paragraph or two on some of the things that I noticed about the films.

Well here goes nothing; we are off to educate the fat samurai reviewer.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) Stanley Kubrick
"The 400 Blows" (1959) Francois Truffaut
"8 1/2" (1963) Federico Fellini
"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) Werner Herzog
"Alien" (1979) Ridley Scott
"All About Eve" (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
"Annie Hall" (1977) Woody Allen
"Apocalypse Now" (1979) Francis Ford Coppola*
"Bambi" (1942) Disney
"The Battleship Potemkin" (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) William Wyler
"The Big Red One" (1980) Samuel Fuller
"The Bicycle Thief" (1949) Vittorio De Sica
"The Big Sleep" (1946) Howard Hawks
"Blade Runner" (1982) Ridley Scott
"Blowup" (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
"Blue Velvet" (1986) David Lynch
"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) Arthur Penn
"Breathless" (1959 Jean-Luc Godard
"Bringing Up Baby" (1938) Howard Hawks
"Carrie" (1975) Brian DePalma
"Casablanca" (1942) Michael Curtiz
"Un Chien Andalou" (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
"Children of Paradise" / "Les Enfants du Paradis" (1945) Marcel Carne
"Chinatown" (1974) Roman Polanski
"Citizen Kane" (1941) Orson Welles
"A Clockwork Orange" (1971) Stanley Kubrick
"The Crying Game" (1992) Neil Jordan
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) Robert Wise
"Days of Heaven" (1978) Terence Malick
"Dirty Harry" (1971) Don Siegel
"The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972) Luis Bunuel
"Do the Right Thing" (1989 Spike Lee
"La Dolce Vita" (1960) Federico Fellini
"Double Indemnity" (1944) Billy Wilder
"Dr. Strangelove" (1964) Stanley Kubrick
"Duck Soup" (1933) Leo McCarey
"E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) Steven Spielberg
"Easy Rider" (1969) Dennis Hopper
"The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Irvin Kershner
"The Exorcist" (1973) William Friedkin
"Fargo" (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
"Fight Club" (1999) David Fincher
"Frankenstein" (1931) James Whale
"The General" (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
"The Godfather," "The Godfather, Part II" (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
"Gone With the Wind" (1939) Victor Fleming
"GoodFellas" (1990) Martin Scorsese
"The Graduate" (1967) Mike Nichols
"Halloween" (1978) John Carpenter
"A Hard Day's Night" (1964) Richard Lester
"Intolerance" (1916) D.W. Griffith
"It's a Gift" (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) Frank Capra
"Jaws" (1975) Steven Spielberg
"The Lady Eve" (1941) Preston Sturges
"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) David Lean
"M" (1931) Fritz Lang
"Mad Max 2" / "The Road Warrior" (1981) George Miller
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941) John Huston
"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) John Frankenheimer
"Metropolis" (1926) Fritz Lang
"Modern Times" (1936) Charles Chaplin
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
"Nashville" (1975) Robert Altman
"The Night of the Hunter" (1955) Charles Laughton
"Night of the Living Dead" (1968) George Romero
"North by Northwest" (1959) Alfred Hitchcock
"Nosferatu" (1922) F.W. Murnau
"On the Waterfront" (1954) Elia Kazan
"Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968) Sergio Leone
"Out of the Past" (1947) Jacques Tournier
"Persona" (1966) Ingmar Bergman
"Pink Flamingos" (1972) John Waters
"Psycho" (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
"Pulp Fiction" (1994) Quentin Tarantino
"Rashomon" (1950) Akira Kurosawa
"Rear Window" (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
"Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) Nicholas Ray
"Red River" (1948) Howard Hawks
"Repulsion" (1965) Roman Polanski
"The Rules of the Game" (1939) Jean Renoir
"Scarface" (1932) Howard Hawks
"The Scarlet Empress" (1934) Josef von Sternberg
"Schindler's List" (1993) Steven Spielberg
"The Searchers" (1956) John Ford
"The Seven Samurai" (1954) Akira Kurosawa
"Singin' in the Rain" (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
"Some Like It Hot" (1959) Billy Wilder
"A Star Is Born" (1954) George Cukor
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) Elia Kazan
"Sunset Boulevard" (1950) Billy Wilder
"Taxi Driver" (1976) Martin Scorsese
"The Third Man" (1949) Carol Reed
"Tokyo Story" (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
"Touch of Evil" (1958) Orson Welles
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948) John Huston
"Trouble in Paradise" (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
"Vertigo" (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
"West Side Story" (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
"The Wild Bunch" (1969) Sam Peckinpah
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) Victor Fleming