#235 The Searchers (1956)

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119 Mins

Director: John Ford

Writers: Frank S. Nugent (screenplay),  Alan Le May (from the novel by) (as Alan LeMay)

Cast: John Wayne,  Jeffrey Hunter,  Vera Miles

Storyline “A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.” IMDB

Disposition

Brit Boy:

I’m fairly ambivalent about this movie, the cowboy genre is not a favorite of mine, however I do remember loving Young Guns and Young Guns 2 when I was growing up. My only other exposure to this genre was watching Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie on a Sunday afternoon when I was a small child.

American Girl:

I have never seen this movie before (or any other John Wayne film for that matter), but it looks to be your run of the mill standard Western.  I remember my Grandpa watching a lot of Westerns when I was little.  They didn’t interest me then, and they still don’t interest me now.  Regardless, this is one of the reasons Brit Boy and I like this blog, because it pushes us both into unfamiliar territory and watching a Western is definitely unfamiliar for me!

Set the Scene

With our newborn daughter and toddler sleeping quietly in their beds, and all six of our “big kids” away at their respective other parents’ houses, Brit Boy and I actually had some time on our hands!  We decided to snuggle up and watch this title, which we have both been dreading for a few months now, but we didn’t want it to hang us up any longer.  So with beers in hand we had a mini-date with John Wayne…

Final Cut

Considering I had nothing but dread leading up to watching this movie, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  I was entertained throughout, and albeit I had some occasional Candy Crush playing in the background, I was genuinely engaged with the plot.  A family is murdered by “Injuns”, and two of their daughters are kidnapped.  In comes their Uncle (played by John Wayne) and his band of merry men to track down the culprits and save the young women.  A simple enough plot, filled with plenty of stereotypes, machismo, and all types of political incorrectness.

Well I wouldn’t quite say that this was an enjoyable 2 hours of movie watching, in fact for the first time I did actually nod off for a good 15 minutes. The plot was slow and drawn out and never really went anywhere. Several times I felt the movie was going to come to a climax and it limped along for what seemed like an eternity. It will be interesting to see if we have any further films from this era, as it may just be the genre combined with movie making of that time.

It may be my generation, as I was born 22 years after this movie was released, but I was shocked at how Indians, women, and men were portrayed in this time!  Even the relationships between mothers and their children in this movie shocked me.  On at least one occasion a mother slaps her teenage daughter completely across the face.  A man literally kicks a woman out of his bed.  A “white” woman that was “saved” from the “injuns” is seen completely crazy, cradling a log as though it were a baby, rocking and singing to it.   What makes all of this even worse is that these scenes are shown to be funny, not disturbing as I saw them….  John Wayne’s character marched around the place with no sense of compassion or human consideration.  I am not sure if this arrogance is present in most of his roles, or if it was just especially strong for this particular character.  Regardless, one thing I definitely took away from this movie is how far our society has come in the representation of minorities.  If this movie were made today it would spark outrage.

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John Wayne who I know is regarded as a mans man just came across as an unfeeling ignorant bully. This is the first time I have knowingly watched one of his films and I am assuming that he went to the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of acting, I think what you see is what you get and his other films have similar characterization.

I too was very surprised how archaic the storyline was and more importantly the views of the characters. Within the first 10  minutes we saw the other lead character referred to as a half-breed because he had mixed native American and American ancestry. The Native Americans were portrayed as no more than savages who killed cattle and raped or kidnapped the honest hard-working Texan women.

Thinking about this a little more  I should not be so harsh as this was a fair portrayal of how the Texans behaved towards their women and the native americans at that time (19th Century America), and the film was I expect a true representation. Maybe I just didn’t like John Wayne because it seemed like he believed all of the dross which was coming out of his mouth (and this wasn’t because of his excellent acting ability).

While I was constantly aghast at the political incorrectness, I did however thoroughly enjoy the cinematography.   This was not filmed in front of green screens with lots of special effects.  It has genuine desert countryside and it was beautiful.  I loved the costumes, the hairstyles, I even found myself studying what the homes of that time looked like. I could even picture why kids of that generation loved playing “cowboys and Indians”.  It was exciting and fun to watch, I just couldn’t get over that it was all at the expense of one race.

The backdrop for the movie was stunning with amazing cinematography but that only goes so far during the film’s 2 hour duration. I will not be watching this film again and as I struggle to understand why it made the list, maybe it is regarded as a John Wayne classic, I think some googling is in order…..

Even though I struggled with a lot of the context of this movie, I do feel it deserves a spot on the list if for no other reason to act as a time capsule.  It beautifully captures what America looked like in this time, and it even captured the culture, good, bad, and otherwise.  I don’t want to watch another Western anytime soon, but being that Westerns were such a mainstay in popular culture in the 50’s (and beyond), I do think it is fair for a John Wayne classic to have made the list.  I just hope there aren’t anymore. 

Once again American Girl it appears you have nailed it. “In 1989, The Searchers was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry; it was in the first cohort of films selected for the registry.” – Wikipedia . I stick by my review but maybe once the pain has worn off I will give it another try.

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

John Wayne and Sir Richard Attenborough both appeared in the 1975 film “Brannigan”.

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#236 Manhattan (1979)

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96 Mins

Director: Woody Allen

Writers: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman

Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway

Storyline: “The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend’s mistress.” IMDB

Disposition

Brit Boy:

I have seen some Woody Allen movies before, however none spring instantly to mind (maybe one about a guy from space / set in the future). Maybe its time for a little IMDB’ing to figure out what it is I remember…..

OK I’m back it was actually called Sleeper and my memory isn’t all that bad it was described by IMDB as “A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government.” Oh well back to my thoughts:

I don’t like Woody Allen as an actor or director and the fact that this is also shot in Black and White, doesn’t bode well. I’ve never liked Artsy films and this strikes me as being artsy in many ways.

American Girl:

I have to admit whenever I hear of Woody Allen all I think of is his affair/marriage to his wife’s adoptive daughter…. I don’t think I have seen any Woody Allen movies, and I am not eager to watch this one either.  I really don’t want to support anything that Woody Allen has done, but I suffered through reading “American Psycho” for our Distant Bookends blog, so I figured I could suffer through a Woody Allen film.  

Set The Scene

American Girl is taking a well earned break away from the kids so I will be watching this alone, I think I’m going to need a glass or two of wine for this one…

I watched this on the plane, which is quite the switch for Brit Boy and I… I somehow managed to convince him to even let me borrow his fancy noise cancelling Bose headphones for the event.

Final Cut

The first thing that struck me about the opening of this movie was the wonderful use of George Gershwin’s composition “Rhapsody in Blue”, I’ve always loved his music and it reminds me of hot Summer nights growing up watching Tom and Jerry on the TV. After a great deal of googling it appears that one of the cartoons which reminds me so much of this track is titled “Mouse in Manhattan”, I will let you make your own mind up.

One of the main reasons I don’t like Woody Allen is associated with questionable morality  generated by his relationship and subsequent marriage to his ex-wife’s (Mia Farrow) adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. This immediately came to mind when we were introduced to Allen’s character Isaac who is dating a 17 year old school girl 25 years his junior. In my mind there was no need to have a school girl as his primary love interest, as a viewer the fact she was significantly younger was all that was needed, the fact she was supposed to still be in high school was unnecessary and I feel played upon Allen’s liking for young girls as opposed to enhancing the storytelling.

Brit Boy I completely agree… All I kept thinking was about the young Soon-Yi, and that this movie foreshadowed his own relationship which was to occur with Soon-Yi.  It actually surprised me that this movie was considered such a hit, when by any modern standard a relationship with a 17 year old girl would be completely illegal.  Where were her parents throughout this entire movie???! If she were 22 and not in high school, it still could have had the same impact. 

Moving on to the characterization, the main characters in this film (played by Allen, Keaton and Murphy), were all highly dislikable people and not a good advertisement for either Manhattan or America in general. Each one was selfish and incredibly myopic. However this does speak volumes for the level of characterization displayed by our lead actors, Mariel Hemingway our 17 year old schoolgirl was in fact nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

I must say I was mesmerized by Mariel Hemingway’s character.  I kept trying to understand her motivations and how she was able to end up in such a bizarre relationship.  I am surprised she didn’t move on to become a bigger star after this film.  As a side note, I did enjoy seeing some very well known actors in their younger days.  I could not believe how stunning Meryl Streep was!  She also happened to be one of my favorite characters in the movie, albeit she had a relatively small part.  It was also nice to see Diane Keaton in a completely different role than I had ever previously seen her in.

In spite of my dislike of the main characters and loathing of Woody Allen, coupled with my concern for the potential artsy nature of the movie, I actually really enjoyed it. The film was straight forward and didn’t have a staggeringly complex plot, however it kept my attention and proved an enjoyable diversion on a Tuesday night. The black and white filming did not detract from my enjoyment of the movie and actually enhanced some of the views we had of 1970’s Manhattan. I would watch this movie again, maybe not any time soon but I certainly will not avoid it, I grudgingly accept that this movie does deserve a place on the list and was much better than I expected. This is certainly a clear example of why we should continue with this list American Girl.

This movie was much better than I was expecting, but it did surprise me that it was based on Allen’s “love affair” with Manhattan, and yet does not portray Manhattan in a beautiful light at all.  While I appreciate movies with grit, this just seemed to be whiny and egotistical.  (Ironically, American Psycho was also based in Manhattan, which seemed to have similar characters involved as well.)  Having spent very little time in Manhattan, I am now starting to wonder what the actual appeal to the city is!  All of this being said, I do agree that it still deserves a spot on the list.  Woody Allen was definitely considered an innovator in the business, and I know he has been involved with many movies, so it seems apt that he is represented on this list.  I do find it funny that the movie representing Allen on this list also seemed to be a bizarre foreshadowing of his relationship with Soon-Yi.  

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Woody Allen and Sir Richard Attenborough both appeared as themselves in the documentary “Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#237 Papillon (1973)

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151 mins

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Writer: Dalton Trumbo, Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay), Henri Charrière (Novel)

Cast: Steve McQueenDustin HoffmanVictor Jory

Storyline: “A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.” IMDB

Disposition

American Girl :

I have never seen or heard of Papillion before this blog, so this will be another movie which I am watching “blindly”.  All I know is that it is about a prison break.  I don’t have strong feelings for or against this movie and I am going into it with a completely open mind.

Brit Boy:

I also have never watched this film but had heard of it, for whatever reason I did think it was a war movie, so was quite surprised to find out it was about a prison break. I do like both Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen so this peaks my interest to settle down and start watching.

Set the Scene

We are getting pretty boring here now that Brit Boy and I are married and with children… We snuggled up one night to watch Papillion together with a few beers on a summer night.  It actually took us THREE sittings to finish the movie, as neither of us realized that it is 2 ½ hours long.

Final Cut

It took me awhile to really get into Papillion, for many reasons.  First, even though Brit Boy purchased us a special edition blu ray DVD (as he always does for our blog movies), I really struggled hearing the actors’ voices.  I know a lot of this is due to the fact this movie was made in 1973 and movie making technology is not what it is today, but many times I could barely understand what anyone was saying over all the background noise.  However, I did finally seem to adjust after 20 or 30 minutes into the film.

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I must admit this wasn’t a problem for me American Girl, as I was more taken in by the cinematography. It had that really epic movie style quality that we seem to have moved away from in the last 20 years. Without the ease of falling back onto green screens and visual affects (not that this film needed them or I have anything against them per se), it made for a grittier more real film.

The filming style was very original, it never felt staged or scripted.  It is as though the director literally threw all the actors/prisoners on set and just followed them around with cameras.  At one point, Brit Boy noticed a chicken which is injured after being stepped on by an actor which apparently was real and not scripted.  (In today’s society there would probably be outrage if any animal was injured on screen accident or not!) There was always stuff going on in the background as well, the scenes were never focused solely on the main actors.  This background “noise” so to speak, is probably what made it difficult for me to focus on the main story line for the beginning portion of the film.

The chicken completely threw me (if one can get thrown by a chicken), it was close to the beginning of the film when the prisoners are being marched through a village to the camp, one prisoner passed out due to exhaustion. Unfortunately the actor fell on the chicken and injured it in some way, I’ve subsequently looked this up online (I know very trustworthy..) and it is confirmed that my eyes did not deceive me. As for the background noise, I felt it was incepting with the film and did not distract me.

I must also admit that I was shocked to see Dustin Hoffman in this role!  It is not a character I would have pictured him playing, and I do wonder if this was one of his first major roles.  I am sure Brit Boy will do some research for me… Steve McQueen was also fantastic in this movie, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was up for some awards for his performance.  I know Steve McQueen stars in “The Great Escape” one of Brit Boy’s favorite movies (which I have still yet to see), but beyond that I had never really heard of him before.  This movie represented him well, and I would be happy to watch more of his films in the future.

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Well American Girl this wasn’t actually one of Hoffman’s earliest films in fact he had some acclaim prior to this with films such as The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy and Straw Dogs, I certainly don’t think this will be the first time we see one of his earlier works. I completely agree Steve McQueen was amazing as “Papillon” and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1974 for his role, only to be beaten by Al Pacino and his role in Serpico.

One thing that stuck with me through this movie is the notion of “cruel and unusual punishment”.  I definitely do not want to get on a political soap box, but generally my feeling is that if people do really bad things than really bad things should happen to them.  This prison (which I believe is based on a real prison), was not just for hard core criminals.  In fact Hoffman’s character was convicted of financial fraud, and Papillion for murdering a pimp, neither crime seems the worst of the worst.  However, this didn’t stop them from being shipped to an Island to perform back breaking labor in which many inmates commit suicide in gruesome ways just to “escape”.  The point in the movie where Papillion is thrown in solitary confinement for two years became almost too difficult for me to endure watching.

The long periods of solitary confinement reminded me of McQueens subsequent role as the Cooler King in the Great Escape, however as American Girl states above the punishment was for much longer and was much harsher. When it makes a Nazi POW camp look tame you can recognize that this is bad….. Many of the inmates did not make it through this severe punishment often being locked in complete darkness for weeks at a time, many were lucky if they just came out completely mad.

The movie did seem to drag on, and I feel that many of the scenes probably could have been cut out with no real effect on the story line.  When we stopped watching on the second sitting we thought we had another 30-45 minutes to go.  Little did we know that there was only five minutes left of the film!  This definitely ruined the ending for me, as I lost all of the buildup.  However, I can’t believe that neither Brit Boy nor I realized we were in the midst of the climax of the movie or we never would have stopped watching!  I guess that does about sum up my general experience of this film, it was good at parts, the acting was superb, but it failed to ever really grab my attention. I don’t feel l wasted my time watching the film, even if just to get history on an old French prison.  

I completely agree this film did appear over long, however it did get me thinking to the time when this was released there would be an intermission so you could go to the bathroom and grab a Cornetto (a type of ice-cream American Girl). So maybe in two distinct sitting in the Cinema maybe the length was just right. If only we had lasted that extra five minutes I think the climax of the film would have been much better, as it was it was touching and quite moving.

Even though I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this film, I do think it deserves a spot on the list, because the talent of the cast is pretty extraordinary.

I think this deserves its place and yet again probably should be higher up but we won’t know until we have watched a few more films, onwards and upwards……

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Screenwriter William Goldman identified Schaffner in 1981 as being one of the three best directors (then living) at handling ‘scope’ (a gift for screen epics) in films. The other two were David Lean and Richard Attenborough. – John Bradey, “The craft of the screenwriter”, 1981. Page 168

 

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#238 The Truman Show (1998)

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103 mins

Director: Peter Weir

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Cast: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney

Storyline: “An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show.” IMDB

Disposition

American Girl:

Disposition – I saw this when it originally came out in 1998.  At the time I was so used to Jim Carrey starring in movies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Ace Ventura”, that I never took the “Truman Show” seriously.  I never hated the movie, but I never bought into it fully.  Now, more than 15 years later, I am excited to watch it again to see if I have a different “feel” for it.

Brit Boy:

This is a film I have heard of but was never inclined to watch. This came on the back of Jim Carrey’s sweet-spot when he could do no wrong and I guess at the time I was all Carrey-ied out. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film though, especially after the unexpected brilliance of Rosemary’s Baby. Let’s see how this film compares.

Set The Scene

So Brit Boy and I are getting kinda boring here…. We snuggled up on the sofa, with a glass of wine and our big screen tv (granted no 3D this time).

Final Cut

Well as I mentioned before I wasn’t sure which Jim Carrey we were going to get in this film, was it going to be the irritating mania, the extreme gurning or something altogether different? Its just struck me that maybe American Girl does not know what gurning is:

Well it is the act of making a grotesque face, often popular at county fairs.

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Jim Carrey in his rubber faced brilliance is quite good at it but I must say it does get quite tiresome. Well anyway back to the film…….

Thanks for your ever enlightening commentary Brit Boy, alas I did not know what gurning was (and apparently spell check doesn’t either)…  However, it seems a very accurate description of many of Carrey’s “faces”.  I should mention however, this is one of those things that completely turns me off of Carrey, it seems like something my 9-year-old son would do and find hysterical.  I guess it is lost on me.  I enjoy a realistic dry humor, not a school boy farting and making faces type.

Carrey played the part of Truman Burbank with a lovely hapless and sickly sweet naiveté, something which I wasn’t used to seeing, no gurning, no slapstick and nothing over the top. I’m beginning to like this part of Carrey’s acting, I was obviously not alone in thinking this, as Carrey won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture for this role.

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I must say that I am surprised that Carrey won a Golden Globe for this role.  He did a fine job, and his normal exuberance actually seemed to fit perfectly as “Truman”, but there are many actor’s which could have portrayed Truman just as well. What really made Carrey’s performance extraordinary was the audience’s realization of his wide range of ability.  All of that being said, I often felt the more emotionally charged points of the film were somewhat lacking.  As such, I never fully connected with Truman, and always viewed him as Jim Carrey “playing” Truman, even this many years later.   (I felt this same way when I watched Robin Williams play the bad guy in “One Hour Photo”.  It doesn’t matter how brilliant Robin Williams is, he would never be a “bad guy” to me.)

American Girl, it is interesting that you mention Robin Williams as he was originally considered for the role, and it was only after Weir saw Ace Ventura : Pet Detective that Jim Carrey was cast (as his performance reminded Weir of Charlie Chaplin).

Truman is a really lovable character and you cannot help fall in love with him and the idyllic location (Seahaven) where he calls home. The simple life which he lives is definitely something which appeals, and at times his unnerving happiness is quite refreshing, nothing phases him. This is completely taken advantage of by the tv company he is living his life in front of, explaining mis-haps in the production of the show with carefully controlled radio broadcasts and media cover-ups.

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Ed Harris offered a great supporting character playing Christof the creator of the Truman Show and effectively the forced adopted father of Truman Burbank. I loved the way Christof showed a god like quality and complete ambivalence to what he was putting Truman through, all he cared about was the show and making “good tv”.

The cast was really superb, and I admit many times I thought to myself how nice it would be to live an actual “picture perfect” life.  I thought the continuous product placement was hysterical and well done.  Every actor portrayed their character perfectly.  You loved who you were supposed to love, hated who you were supposed to hate, laughed at who you were supposed to laugh at.  Without this all-star level of acting the Truman Show may have fallen flat.

5_tschefs-pal-still14-2The show has a really interesting premise; a man lives his life unknowingly in front of the cameras, every detail controlled and scripted without his knowledge. My opinion switched quite dramatically throughout the film, from wanting him to remain in blissful ignorance about his life; to that of wanting him to discover the sham his life was. It’s strangely eerie that Big Brother (the tv show) debuted just 1 year after the release of this film. This offers us a complete dichotomy with Truman wanting to live a normal life and the Big Brother contestants craving all that is bad about reality tv and the transitory fame it offers.

You make a really good point here Brit Boy.  While I watched the movie (this time), I continually thought about the social implications of reality tv.  Granted, when the film was originally released reality tv hadn’t yet fully taken off.  I have no doubts that a real-life “Truman Show” would be an international hit, even if completely morally and ethically wrong.  In a lot of ways the Truman Show was the first movie to address this issue, more recently addressed of course by the “Hunger Games” series.  

I did really like this film and do believe it was well deserving of a place on this list, and is by far and away one of Carrey’s best acting performances. I’m not sure it’s better than Rosemary’s Baby, however I know that these places on the IMDB list are so prone to change that I should probably be comparing it to a film five places above or below this one. I would happily watch this film again and am glad of the lovely escape that it provided.

I did enjoy the film, I was never bored, and wasn’t close to falling asleep (which says a lot for me!).  I think it deserves a spot on the list, but more so because it was the first of its kind to address the implications of reality tv, not because it had any lasting impact on me. Honestly, the film probably should have won a “Best Picture” award, than to singularly recognize Carrey and Harris.  This movie never would have hit it’s mark without the support of the entire cast. 

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Sir Richard Attenborough considered Jim Carrey for the role of Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin” (1992) which eventually went to Robert Downey Jr.

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#239 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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136 mins

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Ira Levin (Novel), Roman Polanski (Screenplay)

Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer

Storyline: “A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.” IMDB

Disposition

American Girl:

All I know about this movie is that it is older (well by my standards), and I think it is a quintessential “scary” movie.  I seriously don’t even know if the movie will be in black and white, and looking at the DVD jacket cover doesn’t give much away.  I have unfounded concerns that it may be boring, and I am not especially looking forward to it.  Even writing this, I realize I sound like a spoiled teenager that only looks forward to big budget movies full of special effects, but hey, this is why Brit Boy and I are embarking on this adventure, to expand our horizons….

Brit Boy:

I have heard of this movie and have some idea about its plot but I have no preconceptions as to what to expect. I’m not sure whether it will psychologically mess with me or be an all out fright fest. Its going to be interesting to see which. I’m actually looking forward to watching this.

Set the Scene

Brit Boy and I snuggle up on the sofa with a bottle of red wine and start the movie looking forward to our mini-date night in our living room.  Well, ten minutes into the movie we decide we probably shouldn’t watch the movie right before bed so that we both don’t end up with nightmares that evening!  Fast forward to the next day, and we steal some time when the kids are at school to watch the remaining two hours of the film in daylight….

Final Cut

I had such low expectations yet I was instantly drawn into this film.  I thoroughly enjoyed the main character, Rosemary.  While I never lived in the 1960’s I felt myself wanting to be her.  I loved her clothes, her style, her hair, her demeanor, even the way she decorated her house.  I had heard of Mia Farrow before seeing this movie, but not as an “actress” but more from the infamous scandal with her then husband Woody Allen.  Rosemary drew me in so much with her simple elegance that I didn’t want to watch the movie at night!  I needed the light of day to cope with the imminent dangers I was sure Rosemary would face throughout the film.  I do wonder if Mia Farrow will be in any future movies on our list, as I did fall in love with her simplistic acting.

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I too was only familiar with Mia Farrow due to her relationship with Woody Allen, we must have been watching the same news shows :). I guess it was quite a scandal too though, obviously not their relationship but Allen’s “relationship” with Mia’s adopted daughter. Some interesting background information American Girl, Mia Farrow was also married to Frank Sinatra, and he asked her to stop acting when they were married. She agreed but got bored with following him around the world on his movie shoots so decided to go back into acting, the film she chose was Rosemary’s Baby. Also interesting to note that she was served her divorce papers whilst working on set. As for seeing more of her on our list, I am sure we will do, as she starred in 12 of the 13 Woody Allen films he made whilst she was in a relationship with him. I agree with you about her style of acting, I loved the innocent way she played Rosemary, it really was fantastic.

I was shocked at the level of nudity in the film!  I think this was Mia Farrow’s first major role, and I was surprised how many times I saw her breasts!  (For some of you out there, this may be all you need to watch the film… ☺)  I feel it would have been lot of nudity even by today’s standards, it must have been unheard of for the 1960’s.  It didn’t take away from the story line, granted I don’t think it added to the story line either.

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of nudity too…… teehee.  Although I agree it was not necessary to see the ‘flesh’ I do think it was depicting a vital part of the film. Although I don’t think it was in any way gratuitous like so many scenes are these days. Its now up to you guys and gals to watch the film and give us your thoughts….. 

The film had a constant ability to remain creepy, and I cannot put my finger on why exactly.  Perhaps because the young married couple was so easy to relate to.  In fact all of the characters were.  Even the mysterious older neighbors and their overbearing personalities were very believable characters.  I cannot remember any spooky music, or even any special effects with lighting/sound that added to a sense of tension.  It genuinely felt as though I was simply a fly on the wall, watching the lives of Rosemary and her young husband unfold.  Even the plot seemed to slowly unfold, but somehow even though it is a longer movie, I never lost interest.  Roman Polanski did an amazing job with this “less is more” approach.  I can see why he received such acclaim.  I am curious if any additional Polanski movies have made our list and if so, if they will follow this same style.

Throughout the film I was constantly tense with the feeling of someone sitting on my chest. Polanski did a great job of steadily drip feeding you information as to where the film was going, this made it all the more gripping. Polanski’s style of filming did indeed feel fly on the wall like, one of the scenes with Rosemary walking into Manhattan traffic was done with real traffic and with a hand held camera used by Polanski.

One thing that caught me off guard while watching this movie is how far feminism has come!  Rosemary never seemed to do anything except decorating her house, lounging around, or chatting to friends (about her husband’s successes).   Brit Boy and I actually both laughed when during a certain scene her husband came home and she bounded towards him welcoming him home, delivering to him a pint of beer along with a sandwich.  Um, don’t get any ideas Brit Boy, this won’t be happening in our house anytime soon….  Through the entire movie you never have any idea if Rosemary ever worked, if she is educated, if she has any of her own aspirations (other than having a baby).  Granted, I still found her very likeable, even if she never would survive under today’s standards of “women”.

I think Rosemary is the perfect woman, maybe you should aspire to be more like her American Girl, I am feeling a little thirsty and a tad peckish…… Seriously though it was incredibly sexist, bordering on the uncomfortable, I am so glad that culture has moved on so much since then.

I definitely think this movie deserves a spot on the list, and I imagine it will always hold a spot on the top 250.  It completely surprised me, and by the end I was left feeling tense (due to the psychological terror), yet also I felt thoroughly entertained.  It will probably rank up there now with my favorite terror movies of all time!  This is a movie I probably would have never watched on my own, yet this blog has forced me to lay down my stereotypes and open myself up to a wide range of filmography.  I highly recommend this movie to anyone that has a love for “scary” movies.

I loved this film, time flew by watching it and I never felt the need to pick up my mobile phone or clock watch. As American Girl has stated above it was throughly entertaining with a great deal of memorable scenes. This certainly deserves a place on the list and I hope its the first of many really golden nuggets that we watch together. I much prefer this style of horror film to the modern day equivalents which go out of their way to shock you with blood and gore. Less is definitely more in this case… Once again IMDB has not let us down.

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Mia Farrow appeared in the 1964 film Guns at Batasi opposite Sir Richard Attenborough.

Guns-at-Batasi

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#240 Shutter Island (2010)

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138 Minutes

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kinglsey, Max Von Sydow

Storyline: “A U.S Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.” IMDB

Disposition

American Girl:

I saw this movie when it originally came out in 2010.  I clearly remember the surprise ending, and feeling very disturbed, beyond that I cannot recall the specific details.   I never had an inclination to watch this movie again, not because it was bad, just because it always stuck with me and I didn’t care to watch it again.  However, now that five years have passed I am looking forward to watching it with Brit Boy especially considering he has never seen it before.

Brit Boy:

Having just watched Monsters, Inc. the night before, I was excited to start utilizing the momentum our last post had created. Interestingly enough American Girl insisted that this may give me nightmares based upon the disturbing storyline which would unfold, this added a certain amount of trepidation and excitement to our movie night, bring it on American Girl…… 🙂

Set the Scene

After finishing Monsters, Inc. Brit Boy and I felt quite on a roll to continue our IMDB movie adventure. One late Saturday night after all the kids were tucked into bed we snuggled up on the couch with some beers to watch Shutter Island. With all the lights turned off, and almost in pitch-blackness we began the psychological thriller. No 3D this time, thank goodness.

Final Cut

After American Girl’s insistence that I would have nightmares after seeing this film I was very intrigued as to what to expect. This was the first film on our list to be directed by Martin Scorsese, and I am sure definitely not the last. As you can imagine the cinematography was great, just the right amount of dark peril and tension with the weather adding greatly to the film’s brooding ambience.

Knowing nothing about the film prior to watching this (something I feel added greatly to my enjoyment, and which where possible I would like to continue doing for this blog), I was incredibly surprised to see Mark Ruffalo’s appearance within the first minutes of the opening titles.

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The first of many accomplished and awarded actors and actresses to appear courtesy of Mr. Scorsese. Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams and the sublime Max Von Sydow completing the supporting cast. American Girl I think its worth mentioning here that Max Von Sydow has a large part to play in my formative years being the archetypal baddie in one of my favorite movies Flash Gordon. Max played Ming the Merciless to Sam J Jones’ Flash, its interesting to note that he has gone on to have an incredibly varied career whereby Sam J Jones has done nothing apart from a couple of bit parts in some 80’s tv shows.

Brit Boy I can’t believe you haven’t even mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio!  Maybe it is because of my love for Titanic, but I think he is a great actor.  This role is so different from that of Jack Dawson, or even that of Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can.   This movie solidifies DiCaprio as one of the great actors of his time.  He definitely can play a wide variety of characters, and believable at that!

Ok American Girl I was getting to that……..

I must say I didn’t have a great deal of time for DiCaprio until now, I think this was his second stand out performance in a film in recent times, I agree that Catch Me If You Can is probably his finest hour. It has got me to wondering why I have such a downer on my buddy Leonardo…. I may have to google his filmography to ascertain where it started I have a feeling it was Titanic but let’s see….. Yeah it was Titanic, I think I just got tired of the estrogen fueled opinions on the film when it was released and he unfairly took my ire. After all a guy has to start somewhere…. Well Mr. DiCaprio sir I am now begging your forgiveness you are in fact a very talented actor and Shutter Island really showed your full range. It’s sad really that the movie nor the acting got any substantial critical acclaim with it only having average reviews, I guess this begs the question did I enjoy it more because I didn’t know what to expect?

Scorsese does a brilliant job of casting, lighting, music, and plot to keep you on the edge of your seat and continually guessing as to what will happen.  The ending to me was a definite surprise the first time I watched it and probably what left me in a bit of a state of shock.  I think I actually got more out of it watching it this second time around, because I was relaxed in knowing what would happen and able to pick up on a lot more of the nuances.

I think the movie crosses the golden rule of films, which is you can never hurt children, and you can never hurt animals.  This movie runs over that boundary and gives you a definite uncomfortable feeling which in my opinion has caused it to be less of a hit.  However, it definitely wins some points in the psychological thriller category.  Nothing “scary” ever really happens but the movie does a brilliant job of keeping you in a creepy state, constantly eluding to a darker underlying story line. 

The fact that this all happens on an incredibly desolate location with no means of escape, in a horrendous thunder storm certainly adds to the mood and tension in the film. When coupled with the numerous twists and turns the film takes I think sets it apart from most of the films in its genre, however this may be because it never really commits to being a horror movie, psychological thriller, film noir or crime drama. I think Scorsese filmed this with Hitchcock in mind and it will be rather interesting to see how this compares to Hitchcock at his best.

While the movie was enjoyable, I must say I am not entirely sure why it has made the list.  My guess is that it has since dropped from the top 250 list in entirety, but maybe Brit Boy can confirm.  While it wasn’t a horrible movie by any stretch we are talking about the best 250 films EVER made (according to IMDB viewers) and this just doesn’t seem like it should make the cut.  I would still recommend it if you are looking for a good thriller that keeps you guessing, but I doubt this movie even won any sort of award.

Well American Girl here is the shocker… Shutter Island has not only remained on the list since we took our snapshot but has in fact moved considerably up the list, actually 40 places….

With that bombshell might I add that I did enjoy this movie and would definitely watch it again at some point in the future, most importantly though it took a valuable spot away from Monsters, Inc. which I don’t think it was deserving of. I’m thoroughly enjoying this list and cannot wait to see what it has in store for us as we continue our journey.

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Martin Scorsese teamed up with Sir Richard Attenborough to produce the Rolls Royce drama ‘Silver Ghost’.

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#241 Monsters, Inc. (2001)

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92 Minutes

Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich

Writer: Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston

Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi

Storyline: “Monsters generate their city’s power by scaring children, but they are terribly afraid themselves of being contaminated by children, so when one enters Monstropolis, top scarer Sulley finds his world disrupted.” IMDB

Disposition

American Girl:

Brit Boy and I have 7 children between us, so we have both seen Monsters, Inc. on many occasions.  I cannot remember the first time I saw it, but I remember always loving it.  This is one of those movies that was watched over and over again in my house.   I feel like I have this movie memorized because I have seen it so many times, so I wouldn’t say I am excited to watch it again (especially now that most of my kids are older and passed this level of film).  However, I am not dreading it either.  

Brit Boy:

Indeed you are correct American Girl this has been watched many a time with the kids, but I haven’t seen it for a long time in its entirety, in fact maybe not since the first time. It is by far one of my favorite Pixar films and always has a place in my heart as it has one of the cutest characters ever to grace a Disney film in that of “Boo”.

Set the Scene

Brit Boy and I finally decided to watch this movie one mellow Friday night when we had nothing much else going on.  Our baby was in bed, and we invited three of our other kids to watch it with us (the remaining children were not at home).  None of the kids seem interested, until we decided to try out the 3D for the first time on our new big screen TV.  Suddenly, we are all sat around wearing our 3D glasses, probably more excited to try out this latest technology than to actually watch the movie.

Final Cut

First, of all, WOW! This movie is AMAZING in 3D. I would highly recommend anyone with a 3D TV to watch this movie as soon as possible. Seeing it in 3D brought a whole new meaning to this movie for me. I literally felt like I was walking down the street with Sully and Mike Wazowski. Disney definitely has the animated market nailed in this aspect. The details throughout the movie are incredible, especially considering this came out over a decade ago! The animation still looks cutting edge and does not feel dated in the slightest.

I totally agree, to use an English expression I did feel like “a kid in a sweetshop” when watching this, staring wide-eyed at the unfolding adventures of Sully and Mike. I caught myself a couple of times almost reaching into the screen or taking my 3D glasses off in order to revel in the technology. 3D viewing in the case of this movie is certainly not a gimmick, it serves as a complete immersion into Monstropolis, the living breathing city where our protagonists live, its real after all isn’t it??

The imagination that went into the making of this movie is mind-boggling. The creators did a phenomenal job taking into consideration every single detail for the town of Monstropolis. Watching the movie in 3D really amplifies every detail, things that I easily overlooked the first 25 times I watched the movie. For example, the menu at a restaurant includes “monster” type dishes, complete with prices in an unknown “monster” currency. Disney could have easily just typed gibberish onto the menu, and the audience may have never noticed. Brit Boy and I had to pause the movie, in high definition, to notice what it actually said. At that point it was easy to get lost in the detail of the movie, trying to find all of the little things that may otherwise go unnoticed.

American Girl the detail is indeed incredible, it does make me wonder how long something like this takes to produce from the initial script to final release (ok after a bit of googling it turns out it was first conceived in 1994…) I loved the comedic takes and surreptitious nods to real life throughout the film. The restaurant where Mike and Celia had their date was called Harryhausens for example which is paying homage to the late, great Ray Harryhausen an American visual effects creator, writer, and producer who created a form of stop-motion model animation known as “Dynamation”, and is arguably the Godfather of the monster film genre.

Harryhausens

The plot is also great, it never gets too slow, and unlike a lot of Disney movies you aren’t beaten over the head with songs. In fact, I remember very little music in this movie. Years later the characters in this movie are still some of my favorite Disney characters. Boo is down right adorable, and any parent could probably relate to her character in some way. Brit Boy and I reminisced of our own kids and how we both compared Boo to our young children at the time this movie had first come out. Now we found ourselves talking about how our 7-month-old daughter will probably be like Boo at some point as well. In fact, we both want to track down a monster costume like the one Boo wears throughout the majority of the movie for our daughter’s first Halloween.

Monsters-Inc-Boo

As well as the superb plot I think the characterization is also excellent, I found myself mentally cheering for our heroes and booing (pardon the pun) the baddies whenever they came on screen like an old school British pantomime (one day I will have to take you to see one American Girl). The casting was a key part in this, Billy Crystal and John Goodman were excellent and very believable as Mike and Sully respectively.

Even after all these years I was completely sucked back into this “Monstropolis” world. I still found myself laughing, feeling sad, and feeling tense all at the intended moments. Never once feeling bored or wishing the movie to be over. If anything, watching this movie again has reminded me how great it is!

I definitely think this movie deserves a spot on this list. In my opinion, it is a true classic and one of the best Disney movies ever made. I am excited to share it with our baby daughter when she is a bit older, and I imagine it will be a movie shared through the generations.

I wholeheartedly agree, in fact with the 3D experience I am sure we will end up watching this a lot sooner than most Disney films. I genuinely enjoyed our family movie night, with this film thoroughly deserving a place on our list, my only complaint being I think it should probably be a lot higher. In fact at the very least, I am sure I will be comparing the other Disney films to this one, in order to see if they are more deserving of a higher place on the list.

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Billy Crystal appeared in the 1996 film adaption of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Sir Richard Attenborough.

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