Monday, January 31, 2011

SAG Winners

Last night showed basically who the frontrunners are for the Oscars. Here are the winners in bold; underlined means my prediction.

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network

Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Hilary Swank, Conviction

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forbidden Planet

Science fiction was a big thing in the 1950's. Some would make clear cut references to communists and the Cold War. Others would just provide entertainment.

Forbidden Planet is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. It has the recently deceased Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis as major members of the cast.

Not long after landing on a planet only inhibited by a recluse and his daughter, crew members of a spaceship are attacked by an unknown creature.

Once we learn about this creature, we become more interested into why it's attacking the spaceship crew members and later on the recluse and his daughter. Why is it?

So what did I think of Forbidden Planet? To tell you the truth, I felt a little underwhelmed. I was expecting a little more out of it. But I did get entertained (though seeing a young Leslie Nielsen almost gave me a heart attack). The electronic score was a little more creepy than sci-fi sounding if you ask me. It's typical 50's kitsch, but I liked it.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Heiress

A theme that runs through The Heiress is desire. Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) longs for a man in her life but is too shy to show it. Her father Austin (Ralph Richardson) wants Catherine to be like his deceased wife. Her suitor Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) would love to be with Catherine (or so it seems).

We learn early on that Catherine has a large sum of money to her name. This is why Austin is suspicious of Morris. Is Morris in love with Catherine or her impending wealth?

Catherine denies her father's claims but when Morris stands her up, she realizes her lover's true nature. She was so blinded by love she couldn't see what Morris' true intentions were.

Now most period pieces like The Heiress are well-crafted. But The Heiress, in my opinion, is a tad on the stuffy side. Don't get me wrong. I admire the work from de Havilland and Richardson (I liked Clift's work, but I felt Clift himself was a little out of place). The plot would've been better had there been something else to move the plot forward.

My Rating: ****

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yankee Doodle Dandy

There's something really enjoyable about seeing an actor playing against type, whether it's a good guy playing bad (Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West) or a comedian going straight (Bill Murray in Lost in Translation).

Now James Cagney, as we all know, is renown for playing the street smart tough guy. So what's he doing in a movie where he's portraying song-and-dance man George M. Cohan? Simple: blowing away that tough guy status in a way more effective than a hail of bullets. I have to admit I was reluctant to see him in a role like this but once I saw the energy he had on-screen, I almost completely forgot about his earlier work.

Song and dance aside, Cagney's role of Cohan is a departure personality-wise from earlier roles like The Public Enemy's Tom Powers or The Roaring Twenties' Eddie Bartlett. Powers and Bartlett are both short-tempered and go by their own rules; Cohan is optimistic and flexible (figuratively and literally).

There is a scene in Yankee Doodle Dandy that really got to me. As Cohan tries to talk to his dying father, he drops his head, unable to speak knowing that this is the last time he'll be able to talk to him. A scene like this can make an actor go over the top with emotions. Not Cagney. He gives the scene the right mixture of believability and heartache.

So did Cagney deserve that Oscar for Yankee Doodle Dandy? Indeed he did. His work is probably one of those rare performances that actually deserved the award. As for the rest of the movie, it's a very well done musical biopic.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lady Eve

Henry Fonda is known for playing the good guy. Famous for his roles in The Grapes of Wrath and 12 Angry Men, he also got noticed for his against-type role in Once Upon a Time in the West. But he's always known for being the good guy.

Con woman Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) sets her sights on her next target: the rich but unsophisticated Charles Pike (Fonda). Only problem is she falls in love with him.

There's a certain saying that fits Pike: "There's a sucker born every minute." Wow, he falls for Jean and her ploys hook, line and sinker. And Fonda just fits that role. Stanwyck actually reminded me of her later work in Double Indemnity as the cunning dame. It doesn't mean I don't like it; it shows that Stanwyck is skilled with that type of role. All in all, I very much enjoyed The Lady Eve.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Bad and the Beautiful

Kirk Douglas is one hell of an actor. He really impressed me with his leading roles in Spartacus and Ace in the Hole, prompting me to delve into his work.

Director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), actress Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner) and writer James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) have been offered to work on the next project of producer Jonathan Shields (Douglas), to which they all refuse. Through flashbacks, it is shown how they come to hate the man that helped their careers.

When we're first introduced to Shields, it's at his father's funeral, his eyes flooded with tears. It gives us the impression that we're supposed to sympathize with him. But not long after that, we soon learn those tears he almost shed were no more than crocodile tears.

Geez, Douglas is ruthless in this. His work in The Bad and the Beautiful reminded me of his role in Ace in the Hole, both of them men who will break rules to get ahead in the business. Impressive work from Vincente Minnelli, who the previous year made the lighthearted An American in Paris. Believe me, The Bad and the Beautiful is one of the bleakest views of the movie industry. Well, along with Sunset Boulevard.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Academy Award Nominations

So the time has come. The Oscar nominations are announced and people are pissed off by a number of them (me included). I'm not making any predictions. It doesn't feel like it's worth it.

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

(No Christopher Nolan? SHAME.)

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

(No Andrew Garfield? Le sigh. Nice inclusion of Renner and Ruffalo.)

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

(Shouldn't Steinfeld be in Lead Actress?)

Another Year
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech

127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King's Speech
True Grit

Black Swan
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

"Coming Home", Country Strong
"I See the Light", Tangled
"If I Rise", 127 Hours
"We Belong Together", Toy Story 3

How to Train Your Dragon
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiuygang

In a Better World
Outside the Law

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

So who do you think will win? What omissions surprised you?

EDIT: I added my reactions to a few of the categories.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Thin Man

It's hard to catch up on older movies. I mean, I've seen a number of movies released before 1980, but still I'm missing out on a bunch.

Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) investigate the disappearance of an inventor. When two people associated with the inventor are killed, it deepens the Charleses' curiosity.

What a fun little movie! Powell and Loy have excellent chemistry together. Knowing that The Thin Man was based on a Dashiell Hammet novel made it more engaging to watch (Hammet also wrote The Maltese Falcon). It's an excellent whodunit that movie lovers and crime fans will just adore.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wait Until Dark

Audrey Hepburn is a legend. With her impeccable talent and grace, it's clear why she is a staple of Hollywood glamor.

A doll stuffed with heroin comes into the possession of blind woman Susy Hendrix (Hepburn). Three small-time crooks plot to get the doll. The result is an evening of torment.

This is probably something Hitchcock would've directed. It really keeps you on pins and needles. Henry Mancini's creepy as hell score and Alan Arkin's creepier performance don't make the viewing experience any more pleasant. The plot reminded me of The Night of the Hunter (villain's object of desire stashed away in a doll), so I can't really say that it was really original. Bear in mind that Wait Until Dark was released in 1967, the year cinema changed forever, so that explains why it still feels edgy after all these years.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

There was a huge surge of science fiction movies during the Cold War, the aliens representing Communists. By now, most of them are really dated but some have still held up after all these years.

Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is investigating cases of people suffering paranoid delusions of loved ones being impostors. As he looks deeper into these cases, he finds something that could be a reason for the delusions.

Oh geez, this scared the crap out of me. Like The Day the Earth Stood Still, another 1950's sci-fi movie that has stood the test of time, Invasion of the Body Snatchers speaks of the time of paranoia from the Red Scare. And again, it scared the crap out of me. Impressive for a 55-year-old film with an 80-minute running time.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I haven't seen it yet."

How many times have you heard/uttered that phrase? I ask this because I got into a conversation on Twitter last night with two other movie lovers (you know who you are). I mentioned The Night of the Hunter to one of them, they replied they've heard of it. I then asked if he had seen it, to which he replied no (he told me he added it to his queue).

The other person in question has admitted he has yet to see a number of classics. The more classics he admits to not seeing, the more I wondered about this guy's credibility as a movie lover.

A lot of other Twitter users/movie lovers I talk to tend to talk about recent movies than classics. I mean, I do too, but let's face it: a lot of the newer movies kind of, uh, suck.

Now don't get me wrong. I have to see my share of movies as well but mind you, most of them have been released in the last twenty years. I, for one, am trying to catch up on movies featuring actors who have either passed away recently or are going to be gone sometime in the near future (which is kind of evident in that movie list I made).

In short, I wouldn't go around saying you're a movie lover if you haven't seen the most essential ones. Or at least half of either AFI's "100 Years...100 Movies" lists.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Face in the Crowd

A number of movies from the 1950's managed to show the realities of media, whether it'd be movies (Sunset Boulevard, The Bad and the Beautiful), newspapers (Sweet Smell of Success) or television (A Face in the Crowd).

Upon being discovered by talent scout Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal), "Lonesome" Rhodes (Andy Griffith) appears on television and becomes a media sensation. But his taste for fame soon becomes too much.

A Face in the Crowd is honestly one of Elia Kazan's best movies. It sags a little bit during the middle, but it's supported by a strong beginning and ending. It is written by Budd Schulberg who, if you've seen On the Waterfront, clearly wants to show the harsh realities of life and media. Griffith's role as Rhodes is a tour de force (that's saying a lot for a film debut). Neal also gives a solid performance. A Face in the Crowd may not be well known as On the Waterfront or A Streetcar Named Desire, but, like I said before, it's just as great as those two.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Boom! 11 Movies That Left An Impact On Me

This isn't a top 11 list, but more so movies that left me speechless when the credits started to roll. In no particular order, here they are:

Some Like It Hot
This is what comedy should be: hilarious but not overdone, screwball yet simple. Honestly, I don't think I've ever laughed that hard from a movie.

Raging Bull
Most black-and-white movies have a glamorized feel to them because they're shot in black-and-white. Not Raging Bull; Scorsese gives it a down-to-earth, gritty feel to the world of boxing.

Mystic River
This was my introduction to the films of Clint Eastwood. And of all the other movies I've seen directed by him, I don't think any will match Mystic River.

Brokeback Mountain
It's sad that this is known as "the gay cowboy movie" to those who refuse to watch it. It's a beautiful, almost Shakespearean romance that I wish more people would appreciate.

Sweet Smell of Success
I've seen a number of film noirs in the last few years, but none have stood out as much as Sweet Smell of Success did. Biting dialogue, excellent cinematography and the bleakest view of New York City celluloid has ever captured.

Schindler's List
As if you weren't crying when this was over. It definitely put Spielberg on a new path in his career.

The Deer Hunter
Much like Schindler's List, The Deer Hunter will put you through an emotional wringer. It honestly left me drained.

On the Waterfront
The subject matter may be dated, but it still has one hell of an impact. Excellent performances from the cast and the famous taxi cab scene is the one that makes On the Waterfront still known by many today.

The Thin Red Line
Unlike Saving Private Ryan (which was released within the same year), The Thin Red Line focuses on the soldiers at war rather than the war itself. The slow pace may turn people away; I, for one, embraced it.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
It's hard to find a good thriller these days since they're so predictable. The Talented Mr. Ripley, however, will keep you guessing (that is, unless you've read the book). Solid performances from the five leads and an ending that'll have you shivering.

Requiem for a Dream
This is, by far, the rawest look at drug addiction. I have to admit, there were some scenes where I was uncomfortable being in my own skin, but nonetheless I was grateful that I saw it.

What are some the left an impact on you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globe Winners

For those who didn't watch it last night, you didn't miss much. Well, apart from Christian Bale saying to Robert De Niro, "You are the shit" during his acceptance speech. Anyway, here are the winners (underlined is my prediction, bold is the winner).

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
The Social Network

Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone, Easy A

Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tobe Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network

"Bound to You", Burlesque
"You Haven't Seen The Last of Me", Burlesque
"Coming Home", Country Strong
"There's a Place for Us", The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"I See the Light", Tangled

127 Hours
Alice in Wonderland
The King's Sppech
The Social Network

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

The Concert
The Edge
I Am Love
In a Better World

Number of Correct Predictions: 5/14 (sad)

There were a couple of notable quotes from last night. Here are my favorites:

"I don't know if an actress can do her best until I have slept with her." ~ Robert Downey, Jr., presenting Best Actress - Comedy/Musical.

"Right now this is the only thing standing between me and a Harley Davidson." ~ Colin Firth, during his acceptance speech.

"There's gotta be an easier way to get a standing ovation." ~ Michael Douglas, in response to his standing ovation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Susannah York: 1939-2011

Susannah York, best known for her Oscar-nominated turn in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, passed away Saturday following a battle with bone marrow cancer. She was 72.

~January 9, 1939 - January 15, 2011~

"Match me, Sidney."

For those who haven't seen it, the title references to a famous line uttered by Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success, a movie I can now say is a favorite of mine.

We see it all the time. Celebrities looking cool and/or sexy with a cigarette dangling from their mouths or suave with a cigar or a pipe. It usually makes people want to smoke so they'll be like their favorite actors, so much so they'd be willing to get cancer just to be like an actor. To me, that's just sad.

So what was I saying? Oh yeah, the post. This will be more of a photo essay, so to speak, of actors smoking and looking good doing it.
Lauren Bacall
Humphrey Bogart
Montgomery Clift
Gary Cooper
Tony Curtis
Bette Davis
James Dean
Johnny Depp
Marlene Dietrich
Errol Flynn
Clark Gable
Cary Grant
Paul Newman
Apologies to the guys if I'm setting a bad example for you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Roaring Twenties

The two most notable names for "old school tough guys" are James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. You mess with them, there's no guarantee you're coming out unscathed.

Upon returning home from serving in World War I, Eddie Bartlett (Cagney) struggles to find a job. Soon he finds one where the money just pours in: bootlegging. Along with war pals George Hally (Bogart) and Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), Eddie rises to the top of the criminal underworld.

Like I said, you don't mess with Cagney or Bogart. That is clearly shown in The Roaring Twenties. It's one of those movies that managed to define an entire genre. It also managed to stand the test of time. Hey, if you don't believe me, watch it yourself.

My Rating: *****

Friday, January 14, 2011

Magnificent Obsession

There's one decade of Hollywood I just adore: the 1950's. That was when, in my opinion, the really good movies were released.

After unwittingly being a factor in a town doctor's death, Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) tries to make amends with the doctor's widow Helen Phillips (Jane Wyman). When an accident leaves Helen blind, Bob fights to win her respect and her heart.

Although Magnificent Obsession is typical Douglas Sirk (*cough* melodrama *cough*), it's actually very well done. Hudson and Wyman have very good and convincing chemistry. The final minutes are a little on the soppy side, but I managed to like it. So guys, if you want a movie that'll have your girlfriend crying on your shoulder, Magnificent Obsession is that movie.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Movie Pitch #2

So those evil geniuses (genii?) over at Anomalous Material had the Hollywood Fantasy Draft come back for a second round. Having participated in Round 1, I decided to do it again. Rules are the same as last time but this time around, you could choose actors and directors that have passed on (which, judging by my casting, I took full advantage of).

So here is my pitch for the Otto Preminger-directed Desire of the Soul.

The Logline
Life seemed perfect for them until two strangers entered their lives.

The Characters
  • Rock Hudson is Roy Grayson, a Virginia suburbanite with an ideal life, a steady job at an advertising agency and a stable marriage. However, recently his life has gotten more secretive.
  • Doris Day is Janet Grayson, Roy's wife. She is a housewife who has grown bored with her daily and married lives.
  • Montgomery Clift is Dave Mareau, a new co-worker at Roy's agency. He appears that he wants to know Roy, but it soon becomes something else...
  • Tony Curtis is Max Kovan, Roy and Janet's new neighbor. He is a young widower who has moved from New York City to start a new life.
  • Thelma Ritter is Helen Jordan, Janet's close friend. Janet goes to her when something is troubling her. She is also the one who introduces Janet to Max.
  • Lee J. Cobb is Trevor Watson, Roy's boss. He is the one who introduces Roy to Dave.
  • Lee Remick is Nancy Baker, Roy's secretary. She is the one who discovers the extent of Roy's friendship with Dave.
The Outline
Theme: The main theme is infidelity. It will become a tad more clear once you read the outline.

Setting: Virginia, 1958

Prologue: We get a glimpse of Roy and Janet's morning routine: Roy heads off to work while Janet cleans the house and has friends over for gossip. Both get bored after their tasks are done, more so for Janet. It is also revealed that their marriage is in a bit of a slump.

Act One: Trevor introduces Dave to the agency's employees. Being polite, Roy asks Dave to go out for a drink after work. At the bar, Roy notices that Dave is making passes at him, embarassing Roy. The day after the incident, Dave's interest in Roy has only intensified. Roy avoids his advances, but Dave tells him that he'll give in sooner or later. And later that night, Roy does.

Act Two: Roy returns home after his fling with Dave, lies to Janet about his whereabouts and goes upstairs to get some sleep. It is here we are introduced to Max, courtesy of Helen and her neighborly nature. Janet is attracted by Max's charm, but doesn't show it. It's also here where Roy and Dave's illicit relationship is discovered by Nancy.

Act Three: It's here where Janet and Max start seeing more of each other. Helen continuously asks Janet if she and Max are more than just friends, but Janet vehemently denies it. But during one of their meetings, Max admits to Janet that he's in love with her. Upon returning home, Janet is questioned by Roy about her whereabouts. Janet lies about who she was with and furiously brings up what Nancy had told her. She cries when she's alone, upset over two affairs: Roy's and her own.

Epilogue: Max proposes to Janet while Dave drunkenly breaks it off with Roy. Roy professes his love to Janet as a means of apologizing for his actions, but Janet belittles him for his dishonesty and announces she is leaving him for Max. The final image is Roy staring at Janet's wedding ring in his hand.

So what do you think? Would you see this?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brief Encounter

Before he made epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean made movies that were under two-and-a-half hours long (would you believe it?).

At a train station cafe, housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) meets doctor Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard). Although both are married, they gradually fall in love. They continue to meet every Thursday at the cafe, although they know that their love is impossible.

Considering the most prolific movies by Lean are male-centered, it was refreshing to see one of his movies with a female lead. The chemistry between Johnson and Howard is very romantic, almost getting up there with Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca. I have to admit I got a little emotional from a few scenes, especially towards the end. Still, I like Lean's epics a hair more.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, January 10, 2011

White Heat

I think I'm going to be on a James Cagney kick for a while. Well, what do you expect from a gal who's a sucker for gangster flicks?

Cody Jarrett (Cagney) is a criminal who goes by his own twisted rules. After landing in prison, the police use Vic Pardo (Edmond O'Brien) as a means to find out the location of the money Jarrett and his gang stole from a train.

In The Public Enemy, Cagney is someone who's intimidating; in White Heat, he's someone who is downright sinister. His freak out in prison honestly freaked me out (as well as most of the extras in that scene). Much like what I said for The Public Enemy, White Heat is a fitting introduction to early gangster movies.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Open Thread

This might be a regular feature depending if this one post becomes popular.

So what's on your mind?

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Public Enemy

If there's one genre that's wildly popular, it's the crime genre. Men love it, women are turned off by it (not me).

Tom Powers (James Cagney) earns a living from bootlegging during Prohibition. But he finds out that bootlegging is a competitive and violent industry.

The Public Enemy is known for two things: kickstarting the gangster movie and Cagney giving Mae Clarke a grapefruit facial (the most ingenious ad-lib in my book). Cagney is just explosive as Powers (though I heard from another source he's better in White Heat). The Public Enemy, in my opinion, is the best introduction to Cagney and the gangster movie in general.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Jimmy Stewart is always an enjoyable actor to watch. He has worked with notable directors such as Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor and Otto Preminger, each time he played the likable leading man (well, maybe not for Vertigo).

Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart) is a mild-mannered man who has conversations with a 6'3" pooka named Harvey. Elwood's sister Veta (Josephine Hull) is fed up with hearing about Harvey and plans to have him committed.

What better way to start my movie watching for 2011 than with a movie like Harvey? Stewart, like I said in the intro, is a joy to watch. His performance in Harvey gets up there with his work in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as a favorite. Hull also gives an enjoyable performance. In short, I just adored Harvey. It had me smiling long after it was over.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

50 Movies I'll Watch in 2011

Since I've been seeing a number of these lists for the last week or so, I thought I might make one too. In no particular order here are the 50 movies, old and relatively new, I will watch this year.
  1. Harvey
  2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  3. A Face in the Crowd
  4. Cinema Paradiso
  5. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
  6. Diner
  7. Pulp Fiction
  8. There Will Be Blood
  9. The Shop Around the Corner
  10. My Man Godfrey
  11. The Bad and the Beautiful
  12. Magnificent Obsession
  13. Somebody Up There Likes Me
  14. Less Than Zero
  15. The Public Enemy
  16. The Trial
  17. Barton Fink
  18. Cape Fear (1962)
  19. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
  20. Wait Until Dark
  21. The Heiress
  22. The Roaring Twenties
  23. All About Eve
  24. I'm Not There
  25. Ikiru
  26. Rashomon
  27. Blue Velvet
  28. Munich
  29. Mister Roberts
  30. The Three Faces of Eve
  31. A Star is Born (1954)
  32. Miller's Crossing
  33. The Thin Man
  34. Atlantic City
  35. The King of Comedy
  36. Eyes Wide Shut
  37. Hamlet (1948)
  38. The Ox-Bow Incident
  39. Out of the Past
  40. Forbidden Planet
  41. Operation Petticoat
  42. Peeping Tom
  43. In the Name of the Father
  44. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  45. Jackie Brown
  46. The Breakfast Club
  47. Paths of Glory
  48. THX 1138
  49. Mean Streets
  50. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
There'll obviously be other movies throughout the year, but I really plan on watching these. And considering I saw over 200 movies last year, I'll get through these just fine.

What else would you suggest I see?

Check it out!

If you notice on the right sidebar, I have added lists of my favorite actors (living and dead) and directors. Let me know what you think of my choices.

EDIT My lists can now be found at the top of the page under 'Favorite Actors', 'Favorite Actresses' and 'Favorite Directors'.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Celebrity Deaths

So many big names have left this world in recent years. Some made me go "Oh my God" when I found out they had died. Some made me feel indifferent. Some fell in between.

Last year alone was crazy. When Jean Simmons, Lynn Redgrave, Patricia Neal and Jill Clayburgh passed on, everyone mourned their deaths. As for me, I felt like I was missing something. Indeed I was. Once I saw movies with Simmons and Neal (have yet to see a movie with Redgrave or Clayburgh), I realized what type of impact they had on Hollywood.

May took Dennis Hopper away from Hollywood forever. Everyone mourned the passing of the original badass, me especially having seen Easy Rider a week or so prior to his death.

Fast forward to September. The last week of the month (or "the week of death" as I call it) was just unbelievable. The passings of Eddie Fisher, Gloria Stuart and Sally Menke were surprising, but the last two casualties of the month left me stunned. Having seen Bonnie and Clyde and The Miracle Worker, Arthur Penn's passing left an indelible mark on Hollywood (and me). Just a day after Penn died, Tony Curtis entered the Hollywood in the sky. I found it a little ironic that Curtis had slipped into obscurity but when he died, tributes just flooded the media.

The end of November claimed the lives of Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner. I had a mixed reaction towards Nielsen's death. On one hand, I hadn't seen the entirety of any of his movies; on the other hand, what I had seen (parts of Airplane! and The Naked Gun movies) had me laughing. For Kershner, I think everyone could agree that The Empire Strikes Back is the best in the series.

The last notable passing of 2010 was that of Blake Edwards. I've only seen Days of Wine and Roses, but finding out of his passing left me speechless.

Overall, 2010 was not kind to the entertainment business. I would say that 2011 should be kinder, but considering we lost Pete Postlethwaite and Anne Francis just a few days ago, I don't think it'll be likely.

Here are some Hollywood icons who passed on in the last decade:

Walter Matthau
Alec Guinness

Jack Lemmon
Stanley Kramer
Anthony Quinn

Billy Wilder
John Frankenheimer
Rod Steiger

Gregory Peck
Katharine Hepburn
Elia Kazan
Charles Bronson
Bob Hope

Marlon Brando
Janet Leigh
Peter Ustinov

Anne Bancroft
Robert Wise

Shelley Winters
Robert Altman

Deborah Kerr
Michelangelo Antonioni
Ingmar Bergman

Charlton Heston
Paul Newman
Sydney Pollack
Richard Widmark

Karl Malden
Jennifer Jones

Jean Simmons
Lynn Redgrave
Dennis Hopper
Patricia Neal
Arthur Penn
Tony Curtis
Jill Clayburgh
Blake Edwards

Monday, January 3, 2011

Movie Characters I Want to Be

This is sort of like that other movie character list from a few days ago. Only it's not characters I like; it's characters I want to be like.

Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), Some Like It Hot
Sugar and I are actually quite similar. We both keep falling in love with the wrong man, each breakup a blow to the already depressed psyche. And making out with Tony Curtis is a major plus.

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), Goodfellas
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster" is the sentence we hear as we're introduced to Henry. And once he becomes a "wise guy", he's living the high life, a life that would make anyone jealous.

The Joker (Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight
He is such a badass. Terrorizing a whole city? Hell yeah. It would also be kinda cool to kill someone with a pencil.

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), The Godfather
Much like Henry, Michael lives in luxury from the gangster lifestyle. He also calculates the perfect hit. Wealth, intelligence and a cunning nature, the very things a true gangster should have.

Gilda (Rita Hayworth), Gilda
She makes every man around her melt. That's a trait I wish I had.

So who would want to be?

Pete Postlethwaite: 1946-2011

Pete Postlethwiate, whose supporting work included William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, In the Name of the Father (which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor) and The Town, passed away Sunday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 64.

~February 7, 1946 - January 2, 2011~

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Plans for 2011

So what are my plans for 2011? They include:

  1. See these movies.
  2. See The Tree of Life.
  3. GRADUATE!!!
  4. Catch up on reading.
Overall, that's really it. What about you?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Notice something new?

With the new year and all, I decided to change to blog up a bit. New template, a little re-arranging, stuff that's simple.

Oh, you're wondering about the new name? Well, I'll tell you. I changed it because A) I was getting tired of typing 'Life of a Cinephile and Bibliophile' (I'm sure I'm not the only one), and B) I was starting to hate the name. So I decided on something a little catchier, despite the fact that many of you said I should keep the name the way it is.

Let me know what you think of the changes.

BOOK VS MOVIE: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I have read five plays written by Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending and Suddenly, Last Summer.

Brick Pollitt is a former football player who drinks his days away. His wife Maggie has all but failed to entice him. His father Big Daddy, dying of cancer, wants to give his plantation to Brick and Maggie, much to the dismay of Brick's brother and his wife.

Williams' play is a fine drama with excellent characters that always have you interested about them. Richard Brooks' film is well-acted and Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives are perfectly cast in their roles. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of those rare examples where the book and its film adaptation are both very well done, making it almost impossible to say which one is better.

What's worth checking out?: I'd go with both.