Monday, November 30, 2009

Quiz Show

This year, I have seen two directorial efforts from Robert Redford, Ordinary People (which some people say shouldn't have won Best Picture) and Quiz Show (which some people say should've won Best Picture). I shall be reviewing the latter.

In 1958, the TV game show Twenty-One becomes a popular show thanks in part to contestant Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a professor at Columbia University. However, the main reason he's staying on the show for so long is that he knew both the questions and answers ahead of time, thanks to producers Dan Enright (David Paymer) and Albert Freedman (Hank Azaria). Herb Stempel (John Turturro), the previous reigning champ, is clearly upset over the ordeal. In fact, Enright and Freedman forced him to deliberately get a question he knows the answer to wrong. Congressional investigator Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) uncovers facts that shock America.

Despite what's said throughout the movie and in the epilogue, Van Doren claimed that what was shown was inaccurate. But either way, I found Quiz Show highly entertaining.
My Rating: ****

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Apollo 13

"Houston, we have a problem."

With that line, panic struck Mission Control at NASA on April 13, 1970. Based on actual events, Apollo 13 is engaging from beginning to end.

Less than a year after man walked on the Moon, NASA is sending up another module to the Moon. The astronauts on this mission are Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon). Everything looks normal shortly after takeoff, however just days later a technical malfunction has them fighting for their lives. At Mission Control, astronaut Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise), flight director Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) and the ground crew try to bring the astronauts home alive.

Having already seen another Ron Howard movie based on true events (A Beautiful Mind), I kinda already knew what to expect. But compared to A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 is, as previously stated, more engaging.
My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Young Frankenstein

Mel Brooks has an interesting career. He won an Oscar for his first movie, is one of the few people to have an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy (his wife Anne Bancroft was close to accomplishing that feat) and has directed some of the funniest movies of all time. One of them is Young Frankenstein.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) ("It's pronounced 'Fronk-en-steen'.") finds out he inherited his family's castle. After meeting such characters as Igor (Marty Feldman), who pronounces his name "Eye-gor", and Frau Bl├╝cher (Cloris Leachman), whose name causes horses to whinny, he also meets his new lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr) who is more sane than the other two. Frederick and Igor successfully obtain a corpse to re-animate, but Igor destroys the desired brain by mistake and grabs one that's abnormal. Problems arise when not only the Monster (Peter Boyle) is on the loose, but when Frederick's uptight fiance Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) comes.

I'll admit it has been some time since I've seen this, but I remember enough that this is a very funny movie. I mean, who doesn't crack up from Igor's side-changing hump ("What hump?") or from the "Puttin' on the Ritz" bit? Sure it's typical Mel Brooks in some scenes, but it's still hilarious.

My Rating: *****

And now, the "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hannah and Her Sisters

Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I should review a movie focusing on family. That movie is Hannah and Her Sisters.

The plot revolves around three stories of an extended family:
-The first is about Elliot (Michael Caine), Hannah's (Mia Farrow) husband. He has an interest in Lee (Barbara Hershey), Hannah's sister, who lives with misanthrope artist Frederick (Max von Sydow). Lee and Frederick's relationship isn't what it used to be, so when Lee finds out about Elliot she has an affair with him.
-The second is about Hannah's ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen), who is a hypochondriac. He thinks he has an actual disease and when it turns out he doesn't, he unsuccessfully converts religions.
-The third is about Hannah's other sister Holly (Dianne Wiest). She's a recovered drug addict and unsuccessful actress who runs a thriving catering business with her friend April (Carrie Fisher), who's also an actress. They compete for a guy they've met at a party they were catering and a part for a play, both of which go to April. She tries her hand at writing, but Hannah disapproves of the play she wrote because it mirrors Hannah's marriage with Elliot. She meets Mickey, in which previously they had a disastrous date together, and they go on another date.
The movie overall was very good and, in some ways, very Woody Allen. No surprise that the screenplay picked up an Oscar. Caine and Wiest's performances were also very good and earned those Oscars. How it lost Best Picture to Platoon, I'll never know.
My Rating: *****

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Manhattan

I find it interesting. Woody Allen allegedly claimed that he wasn't pleased with the finished result of Manhattan. Ironic since it became one of his best-known works.

TV writer Isaac Davis (Allen) has an interesting way with women. He's dating 17 year old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), his ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep) is writing a book on their failed marriage, and he's fallen in love with Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton), who is the mistress of his friend Yale Pollack (Michael Murphy).
There are two things Manhattan is mostly remembered for, the opening montage of the city and the iconic shot of Queensboro Bridge (seen on the poster). And I can see why they've left such an impact on Hollywood. Allen said he shot the movie in black-and-white because that's how he remembered the city when he was growing up. It probably wouldn't have work had it been shot in color. The black-and-white gives the movie a more romantic feel to it, in my opinion. And also Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a nice touch.
My Rating: *****

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Twitter Conversation #2

Had another movie-based conversation on Twitter last night. This time the people I was talking were Andrew from Encore's World of Film & TV, a user by the name of FilmBuzz, and of course Ryan from A Life in Equinox. Thankfully, this one is shorter. It started with me twittering tweeting typing that I had just finished watching Quiz Show (again, might be not in same order):
MovieNut14 (me): Just saw Quiz Show. Great movie on the scandal that rocked the 1950's and the way people looked at television.
FilmBuzz: @MovieNut14 we concur, "Quiz Show" is one of Redford's best works, in our opinion...
Univarn (Ryan): @MovieNut14 loved John Turturro in that movie, been a fan of his ever since.
MovieNut14: @FilmBuzz Interesting too, I saw Ordinary People back in June and I like Quiz Show a lot more. Don't know why...
MovieNut14: @Univarn I liked Ralph Fiennes' performance of Charles Van Doren. He was stiffed of a nomination.
DepartedAviator (Andrew): Thank you. Sure I have not seen this in a while...and I'm a sucker for Fiennes. But where was his nomination?
Univarn: @MovieNut14 that was one heck of a tough year for acting noms
Univarn: @DepartedAviator it went to Paul Scofield for the film instead.
Univarn: @DepartedAviator his oscar was taken the year earlier in favor of a Lee Jones acheivement award
MovieNut14: @Univarn True, very true.
MovieNut14: @Univarn Yeah, I'll admit I don't think Jones deserved that win for The Fugitive. He was okay, Golden Globe at least, but an Oscar? Come on!
MovieNut14: Oh great, here we go again. Another movie conversation on Twitter with 2+ users that'll probably end up on my blog tomorrow. (eye roll)
Univarn: @MovieNut14 ok how about this: Panda bears rule. End of conversation. I win. :P
MovieNut14: @Univarn ...O-kay. I need to go to bed. 'Night.

I swear, these conversations I keep having with Ryan show that he needs a vacation. Badly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Randoms Ramblings

Just some facts and thoughts that have been running through my head:
  1. A scientific study showed that men find women more sexually attractive if they're wearing red. That's something I gotta remember when I'm dating.
  2. Mel Blanc, who is immortalized for voicing Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.
  3. Walt Disney was afraid of mice. Ironic since his most famous creation is a mouse.
  4. Charlie Chaplin once lost a Charlie Chaplin look alike contest.
Weird, huh?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Future Plans for LoaCaB

Yeah, epic fail on the title abbreviation. Anyway, here is what I plan to do on this blog in the future:
  1. A year-end summarization of the movies I've seen this year.
  2. Reviews of movies by Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, among others.
  3. Many, many more ramblings.
Well, that's what you're going to expect from me in the next months.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is there a movie...

that you keep putting off seeing? I don't know why, but I keep putting off seeing Philadelphia. I really don't know why, but something tells me I'm going to be very depressed by it after I see it.

So, what about you?

Twitter Conversation #1

Last night, I had a conversation with Ryan from A Life in Equinox and Julian from Movies and Other Things... over on Twitter. And it started with me unsure of what my next post would be. It went like so (the order may not be right):

MovieNut14 (me): Stuck on what to do for next blog post... :P
MovieNut14: @Univarn Are you aware that your favorite movie of all-time is going to be on IFC at 8:00 AM on 11/28?
Univarn (Ryan): @MovieNut14 nope, but worse yet I don't get that channel.
Univarn: guess I'll just have to toss in the DVD instead :D
MovieNut14: Oh, well. Thought you had the channel. At least you have the DVD.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 have you ever done a top film list?
Univarn: @MovieNut14 you should work on compiling a top 100 films list if you're looking for something to do for your blog long term.
202chicago (Julian): I know you were talking to MovieNut14 about the 100 films list, but do you have tips on starting/enduring/finishing such a list?
Univarn: @202chicago medication? Really it just takes patience. I spent 2 weeks during summer break debating/arguing with mine.
202chicago: @Univarn Ok. That definitely rules out any time soon for me, but thanks for the advice :)
Univarn: @202chicago I could prob do the list 10 times and come up with 10 different orders and who knows how many different films.
Univarn: @202chicago I'd say keep it personal. Don't try to force films you don't feel good about just because they're considered classics.
202chicago: @Univarn Yeah. That definitely rules out Saving Private Ryan and Annie Hall for me haha
Univarn: @202chicago haha that's alright. They're well featured on my list ;)
MovieNut14: @Univarn I appreciate the thought but I can barely compile a list of my top 10, let alone top 100.
MovieNut14: @Univarn And besides, some movies I love I've already reviewed.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 well some times doing a list like that will get you to go back and see films you haven't seen in ages but still had an impact
MovieNut14: @Univarn Something I plan to do at the end of the year is make a list of all the movies I saw this year. Believe me, there's a helluva lot.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 cool. at the of this year i get to start sending out resumes. You plan sounds like more fun.
202chicago: @Univarn Ah. The subjective world of film :)
Univarn: @202chicago aye. That what makes film great ;).
202chicago: @MovieNut14 I know. I've seen AT LEAST like 50... and that's not including films released before 2009
MovieNut14: @202chicago I've seen 56, and like two-thirds of them came out before this decade.
MovieNut14: @202chicago Oh yeah, and three of them were released this year.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 that's always good, can't appreciate where film is from without seeing where it came from :). wouldn't dare count how many I've seen
202chicago: @Univarn Preach it!
202chicago: @MovieNut14 I saw where you said something about Philadelphia Story. I remember you saying it was good? I have it here. Should I watch?
202chicago: @MovieNut14 Whoa. I'd hope for your sake that G.I. Joe and Transformers 2 weren't a part of the three you've seen this year... that'd be bad
MovieNut14: @202chicago The Philadelphia Story? Yes, you should watch it. Great chemistry throughout.
202chicago: @MovieNut14 Aight. Cuz I'm not gonna lie... I didn't care for Miss Hepburn in On Golden Pond, the only performance I've seen of hers...
MovieNut14: @202chicago I'll admit this is the first movie I've seen with Katharine Hepburn, as well as Cary Grant. It's the third with Jimmy Stewart.
202chicago: @MovieNut14 It'll be my second for Hepburn, first(?) for Grant, and I think second for Jimmy Stewart (It's a Wonderful Life was my first)
MovieNut14: Ack, need...to stop...twittering. Gonna get carpal tunnel syndrome if I keep typing.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 I realized this weekend I've done 1000+ tweets. What's worse is it didn't occur to me how sad that was until later
Univarn: @MovieNut14 if you like Cary Grant's style you should watch Charade and Arsenic and Old Lace
MovieNut14: @Univarn This is the most I've tweeted in day. I don't even tweet this much in a week. As for Mr. Grant, plan to see his Hitchcock movies.
Univarn: @202chicago You HAVE to watch Harvey (starring Stewart). It's overly sweet, cheesy, and insanely fun. I love it every time I watch it
202chicago: @Univarn Yeah. I've been meaning to watch that, but I keep forgetting :/ How did you feel when they announced the possibility of a remake...
202chicago: @Univarn ... with Spielberg directing and (potentially) Robert Downey, Jr. playing the lead?
MovieNut14: @202chicago Personally, I can't stomach that. Though Downey is an interesting choice.
MovieNut14: Sheesh, if I keep tweeting I'll probably break the 300 mark.
202chicago: @MovieNut14 I believe that Downey can play anything (he's my fave actor), but I'm not so sure that this project in general is a good idea...
Univarn: @202chicago Not sure it'll happen. If it does I'll see it and judge it then. The charm of Harvey is going to be near impossible to replicate
MovieNut14: @Univarn I plan to watch it soon (the original, of course). It's on my DVR.
MovieNut14: Boy this conversation with @Univarn and @202chicago is getting pretty good. But I'm sleepy. Good night.
Univarn: @MovieNut14 good night :P
MovieNut14: @202chicago Oh, your comment on movies I've seen from this year. Relax, I avoid crappy movies like the two you mentioned.
202chicago: @MovieNut14 Good to know :)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to soak my hands in cold water and step away from my computer before it explodes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is there a movie...

that, dispite all of the acclaim, you vow to never ever see? For me, that's easy: A Clockwork Orange. Why, you may ask? Because the book scared the living crap out of me. And if the book did that, I don't want to know what the movie'll do.

So, what's your choice?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Groundhog Day

Since I've been mostly reviewing movies only a handful of people have seen, I might as review something most people have seen.

Weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray), his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) are sent to Puxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover Groundhog Day. Phil, growing tired of the assignment, gives the report and attempts to go back to Pittsburgh when a blizzard forces Phil and his crew to stay an extra day.

Then things get weird.

Phil finds himself reliving February 2nd . Only he's aware of the time loop, while everyone else is oblivious to it. At first he's confused then he embraces it by getting away with anything, like stealing, seducing women and driving drunk.

There were two scenes that just killed me.
~The first one is when Phil and Rita are in the restaurant. The table's covered with junk food, Phil's smoking, making Rita concerned about his health. Phil shoves a piece of cake in his mouth, causing Rita to turn away in disgust, then he asks, with his mouth still full of cake, "What?"
~The second scene is when Phil continually tries to kill himself. He sticks a toaster in the shower, runs in front of a car, and jumps off a building. All this result with him waking up the "next" morning.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Edward Scissorhands

It's hard to believe that one of Tim Burton's more memorable movies started with a sketch he drew as a teenager.


Edward Scisscorhands opens with an elderly woman reciting the story of a man named Edward (Johnny Depp) who has scissors for hands. He was created by an aging inventor (Vincent Price) who died before he could give Edward hands.
Years pass, Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), after failing to make profits in her neighborhood, ends up going to a gothic castle on top of a hill. There, she finds Edward and brings him home with her. Edward befriends Peg's son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) and daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Peg's neighbors find out that Edward has a talnet for hedge clipping and haircutting. Although Edward becomes popular, two people dislike him almost immediately: religious fanatic Esmerelda (O-Lan Jones) and Kim's jock boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). Joyce (Kathy Baker), a "lonely housewife", tries to seduces Edward, but to no avail. After a robbery staged by Jim with Edward as the culprit, Kim dumps Jim to be with Edward.

As you can imagine, I liked Edward Scissorhands very much. From I've read, Depp watched numerous Charlie Chaplin movies in preparation for the role to "create sympathy without dialogue." And yes, because I'm a fan of Mr. Burton, I just LOVED this movie.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Freaky Film Fact #4

Still on the topic of bromance, I thought I might indulge you with a bit of trivia.

Longtime friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are actually related. A recent geneaology study showed that Damon and Affleck are 10th cousins once removed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Still have Paul Newman on the mind. Might as well review that fifth movie.

Criminals Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are the two leaders of the Hole in the Wall Gang (originally The Wild Bunch, but was changed to avoid confusion with Sam Peckinpah's earlier release). After a botched robbery ("Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"), they're on the run from a mysterious posse ("Who are those guys?").

This is considered the best bromance movie of all time, and I can see why. No wonder Newman and Redford were teamed up again in The Sting. It's also probably one of the funnier movies I've seen in a while.

My Rating: *****

And now, two of the better scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the last one jump to 1:55):


Monday, November 9, 2009

Possible Hosts

Still have the Academy Awards on my mind. Because of that, I going to examine few likely candidates for a future show.

Neil Patrick Harris

Why it might work: Judging by his success as the host of this year's Emmys (which brought up ratings), it's possible he might host the Oscars.

Why it might fail: Outside of his work on the TV show How I Met Your Mother, he's not that well-known.

Tina Fey

Why it might work: Hey, her 30 Rock co-star is hosting next year's Oscars. Why not give her a shot? Oh wait, a reason? She's hilarious.

Why it might fail: Something tells me the Sarah Palin skits from Saturday Night Live last year might cost her.

Ricky Gervais

Why it might work: Let's see...his jokes at last year's Golden Globes and this year's Emmys killed, and he's going to be hosting this year's Golden Globes.

Why it might fail: Although he's a big name in the UK he's pretty much an unknown here in the US, judging by the profits of his movies.

Stephen Colbert

Why it might work: Hey, Jon Stewart got to host twice. Give Colbert a shot. I actually find him funnier than Stewart.

Why it might fail: He's kinda more of a spaz than Stewart, so the direction of where the show's going might be obvious.

Well, those are my observations. What do you think?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Hustler

It's interesting. Ever since his passing last year, I've seen four movies featuring Paul Newman just this year (two I've previously reviewed). And I'll admit I haven't seen any of his movies before he died. Anyway, onto the review.

"Fast Eddie" Felson (Newman) is a small-time pool hustler with lots of talent and an ego to match. After losing a match with the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), he has a difficult time regaining his confidence. In the process, he gains a girlfriend Sarah (Piper Laurie). He becomes desperate and falls victim to ruthless and cutthroat manager Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) to help him get back on top.

I really liked Newman's work in this. But I was really impressed with Gleason's role. I mean, one minute he's Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, next minute he's Minnesota Fats. Overall, a very goo movie.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oscar Examination: Comedians Doing Drama

With Precious garnering serious Oscar buzz for Mo'Nique, I've decided to take an examination of comedians going straight. Well, doing drama. And believe me there are a lot:
  • Saturday Night Live alum Dan Aykroyd received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Driving Miss Daisy; lost to Denzel Washington in Glory.
  • Mary Tyler Moore and Judd Hirsch, two actors well known for their comedic work on television, showed their dramatic sides in Ordinary People. Both were nominated but lost; Moore to Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter, Hirsch to his co-star Timothy Hutton.
  • Another veteran of sitcom, Jackie Gleason, earned praises for his role of Minnesota Fats in The Hustler; the Oscar went to George Chakiris for West Side Story.
  • Red Buttons won an Academy Award for his supporting role in the Korean War drama Sayonara.
  • Robin Williams won over critics with his role of John Keating in Dead Poets Society. Although he lost to Daniel Day-Lewis, Williams would later win for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting.
Those are the ones I can remember. What do you think?

Two questions about Academy Awards

With the big news in Hollywood being Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are to host the 82nd Academy Awards, I ask two questions:

1) Who is your favorite past host?

2) Which celebrity would you like to see host the Oscars?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Glass Menagerie


I've started to take a greater appreciation for plays recently. I originally found plays boring (take note that this was when I was a kid), but now I like them. Case in point, next thing I'm reviewing is Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

The lead of the play is Tom Wingfield, an aspiring writer who lives with his mother Amanda and sister Laura. Amanda is obsessed with finding a man for her daughter; Laura herself doesn't want to rush at the idea.

Having finished reading about a week ago, it's still fresh in my head. I liked this, but I didn't like it as much as A Streetcar Named Desire. But I thought it was good.

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Movies watched over and over

I saw this article on Entertainment Weekly which makes me ask the question: What movies do you watch over and over again?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Born Standing Up

Need to take a break from movies for a while. I mean, if you read the title of this blog, you would expect a book review here and there.

Born Standing Up chronicles the stand up career of Steve Martin. Not only that but also his childhood, his first jobs in the entertainment business and his break in the movies.

I read this not too long after it was published. It's an interesting read on the actor.

My Rating: ****

Monday, November 2, 2009

Freaky Film Fact #3

This one was just too weird.

Although they are trademarks in his movies, director Quentin Tarantino strongly detests drugs and violence.

Oh yeah, and he also has an IQ of 160 despite the fact that he's a high scool dropout.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What do you prefer?

A) a movie shot in black and white?

or

B) a movie shot in color?

BOOK VS MOVIE: Rosemary's Baby



Like what I mentioned in the previous post, it takes a lot for a horror movie to scare the crap out of me. Like Psycho, Rosemary's Baby (mostly the movie) did just that.

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young couple who just moved into the Bramford apartment building. Guy is a struggling actor who gets his big break after the original actor goes blind. Soon after this, Rosemary becomes pregnant. But Guy's behavior, along with the behavior of their neighbors the Castevets, makes Rosemary suspicious.

Rosemary's Baby marks one of the few times where the book and the movie are great. Kudos to Roman Polanski for being true to the book. Compared to what Stanley Kubrick did with The Shining, Polanski actually followed what happened in the book. Mia Farrow was good as the title character.

There's also a weird connection Rosemary's Baby has with two infamous murders. A year after its release in theaters, Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's gang. And in 1980, John Lennon was shot outside of the Dakota, where most of the movie was filmed.

What's worth checking out?: Both are worth checking out.

Psycho

It's interesting. It takes a lot for a horror movie to scare the crap out of me. Alfred Hitchcock managed to do just that with his magnum opus Psycho.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her boss and flees to California. Paranoid that the police are following her she checks into the Bates Motel, run by the conspicuous Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Crane soon decides to return the money, but is murdered before she can do anything.

Congratulations, Mr. Hitchcock. Thanks to you, I don't believe I'll be able to take a shower again. As you can tell, Psycho affected me hard. I'll probably watch it again, but not anytime soon. Or at night.

Oh, wait. Forgot to mention this is my 50th post! Whoot!

My Rating: *****