365 movies

365 Movies in 2015 || 81/365 Battle Royale (2000)
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda and Tarô Yamamoto
Plot: In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.

365 Movies in 2015 || 289/365 Mad Max (1979)
Director: George Miller
Starring: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel and Hugh Keays-Byrne
Plot: In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.

365 Movie Challenge

It Follows

REALLY loved this movie.  Everything from the acting to the pacing to the costumes, soundtrack, and down to this cool poster…not the usual one but I love it.  It was just a great, timeless horror flick and I loved it to bits.  

My only issue was it was SO 80s/early 90s and I was all for it, but then randomly this girl had an electronic reader.  It was like 1993….why for e-reader?  Everything else though, really liked the characters and the whole “it’s just a thing that slowly walks after you, and if it catches you, you’re dead” never got old.  Also not an insane amount of gore, just a couple of times so when it happened it was really effective.  Please more classic horror flicks like this!

AND PLEASE GIVE IT A LIMITED EDITION VHS RELEASE!  I will buy it in a second!!

43/365

12. Stuck in Love (2012)

10/10

This movie was AMAZING. I completely loved it. Maybe it’s because it’s about writers and I love everything that has to do with writers.

Anyway, this movie is spectacular.

All and every single one of the cast members are amazing actors. Have Logan Lerman in your movie and I’m going to watch it. Have Logan Lerman, Lily Collins AND Greg Kinnear and I’m gonna fall in lie with your movie.

Everything about this movie is so lovely and charming and real and beautiful. There’s nothing I don’t love about this movie. 100% recommended.

365 Movies in 2014 ||  269/365 American Mary (2012)

Directors: Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo and Tristan Risk

Plot: The story follows medical student, Mary Mason, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the surgical world she once admired. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called ‘freakish’ clientele.

Movie 277 - My Go To Recommendation for an Intro to Buster Keaton & Silent Cinema in General

Sherlock, Jr. (Dir. Buster Keaton, 1924)

Joseph Frank Keaton, whom the world would know by his stage name Buster Keaton, was born on this day in 1895. Keaton was born into a vaudeville family, and joined the family act at the age of three. He transitioned from vaudeville to film, like many comedians of the era, making his debut in the 1917 Fatty Arbuckle film “The Butcher Boy.” The action comedies he would later star in, as well as do some combination of writing and/or directing for, were innovative and ambitious. Keaton’s films were never critically or commercially lauded during the peak of his career. He weathered the coming of sound better than most, but not the loss of his creative control. Alcoholism overtook him for decades until his third wife Eleanor helped him not only overcome his addiction but get work at a time when his contributions to cinema were being realized and appreciated.

My interest in Keaton’s work began with “Benny & Joon,” and wanting to know the inspiration behind the ‘90s flick about a pair of misfits who fall in love. The first Keaton film I ever saw was “The General,” and between that film and everything I read about the guy, I kinda fell in love with him. As I explained in my post on “The General:

“Keaton is my favorite silent film actor. At 5’4” and change the stone faced gent doesn’t look like much, but he was ripped and wiry, and as mechanically proficient as he was with physical comedy. The guy inspired Jackie Chan for a reason.”

Douglas Fairbanks? Rudolph Valentino? No, give me Buster Keaton any day of the week! Plus, how do you not love a guy that was an analog techie, and loved trains and baseball? Pity he had such awful taste in women early in his life. (Seriously, read up on his marriage with Natalie Talmadge, that whole episode of his life is awful and messed up for both parties.)

Anyway, enough of me counting the ways I love Keaton. Let’s talk about why “Sherlock, Jr.” is my go-to case study for his greatness, and silent cinema in general.

When my friend theinnkeeperlibrarian told me she wanted to learn more about silent film, I wasn’t sure what a good point of entry would be. Science fiction fan that she is, she wanted to see “A Trip to the Moon” (“Le Voyage dans la Lune,” Dir. Georges Melies, 1902), which is a great early film. However, for such a diverse era of filmmaking, where to begin to show what made silent cinema unique relative to sound cinema and why it continues to be compelling to this day?

I asked my L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation classmate, the Boy Genius, since he is quite the devotee of silent cinema, what he thought was a good entry point into that era of cinema. He advised me to show the Inn Keeper Librarian “Sherlock, Jr.,” because it was engaging and only 45 minutes. I had seen the film before, and while it’s not as flashy as the hurricane sequence in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” or as epic as “The General,” it highlights everything Keaton did well and if a person doesn’t like it, they only lost 45 minutes of their life. To this day, the economy of “Sherlock, Jr.” is a selling point I use on people who are skeptical they will get into it.

“Sherlock, Jr.” builds slowly: Keaton plays a projectionist, who aspires to be a detective, who is trying to court a local Girl (Kathryn McGuire) despite his modest means and her receiving attention from the Local Sheik (Ward Crane). The first part of the film introduces the frame story and the fact that the Local Sheik is dishonest, and that dishonesty gets projected onto, well, the Projectionist. Rebuffed by his girl, the Projectionist goes to work, and that’s where the film becomes really interesting. While projecting a film he falls asleep and his consciousness wanders onto the screen via a bunch of camera tricks that are indebted to magician-filmmaker Georges Melies’s work. (Keaton, like Melies, loved experimenting with motion picture technology and tricks of the medium, and it’s fully on display in this sequence.) The dream sequence then transitions into a detective drama in which the projectionist is the famed detective Sherlock Jr., the Local Sheik is a dastardly villain and the Girl is, well, still the Girl, but fancier. More camera tricks, slapstick and stunts abound, including a sequence where Keaton is riding on the handlebars of a motorcycle. His reaction when he realizes that the motorcycle’s driver fell off resulted in the Inn Keeper Librarian delivering the best reaction I’ve ever heard to Keaton’s acting ever: “Why are his eyes screaming?”

Needless to say, “Sherlock, Jr.” helped the Inn Keeper Librarian realize the appeal of silent cinema and Keaton. We later went to a bunch of silent film screenings, including Keaton’s “Our Hospitality,” which had a sequence that left us laughing for minutes after its completion. It was with she that we coined the term to describe Keaton’s mechanic mastery “analog techie.” Despite how the term “techie” has become something of a pejorative in the Bay Area, I continue to maintain it sums up Keaton’s skillset, apart from his athletic skill, beautifully.

As of the date of this post, most of Keaton’s feature films, including “Sherlock, Jr.,” are up on Netflix Streaming. If you’ve never seen a silent film period, or just haven’t seen any of his films, I highly recommend “Sherlock, Jr.” as a starting point, then give “The General” a go.

365 Movie Challenge

Jesus Camp

I’ve never seen this movie and it was a little bit terrifying.  I was raised Christian, but we were Methodist so I was just always taught “be a good person, God loves you.”  I was never really taught against anything, but I have lots of friends who were raised in churches just like this and it’s kind of scary.  Like I eventually left the church and came out as a lesbian pagan and my parents were just like “well..just try to be happy.  We love you!”  So this is just so foreign to me but it was fascinating to watch.

97/365

7. Across the Universe (2007)

2/10

As you can see, I didn’t like it. If you’re a The Beatle’s fan you’ll (probably) like it. There were 34 musical cues on a two-hour movie and it was just too much.

It has incredible animation/effects and the actor could really sing, that’s why I gave it 2/10. The plot was incomprehensible and ridiculous and I got bored way too much time. Things happened and I expected more development but I just didn’t buy it.

365 Movies in 2015 || 121/365 The Crow (1994)
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott and Rochelle Davis
Plot: A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée’s murder.

Movie 214 - The Epic Film That Ruined Most Other Epics For Me

Lawrence of Arabia (Dir. David Lean, 1962)

Peter O'Toole was born on this day in 1932. He had a long, esteemed career, but for me, and others, I can’t look at him without thinking of him as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s epic biopic of Lawrence’s involvement in the Arabian Peninsula during Word War I, “Lawrence of Arabia.” The film itself is epic, but O'Toole plays Lawrence as both larger than life, and accessibly human, creating a film that is as sprawling as the desert and yet thorough intimate.

Watching Lawrence go from cocky, anti-authoritarian hot shot officer, to unlikely genius strategist, to icon, to disillusioned soldier is quite a trip. The film clocks it at slightly under four hours and every minute is needed.

The first two times I watched “Lawrence of Arabia” all the way through was in 70mm at the Castro Theatre. The third time I saw it at the Castro again, but the newly transferred digital restoration, which was stunning but lost some of its spirit in the transfer. Still, the new restoration led to the blu ray release, and me finally buying a copy of “Lawrence of Arabia,” a movie I considered too beautiful for just DVD quality.

It’s beautiful, iconic, and an all around quality production, albeit somewhat problematic in its casting. Anthony Quinn and Alec Guinness playing Arabs is slightly cringe inducing, despite how good their performances are otherwise, and how much Guinness actually looks like the real life Prince Faisal. The presence of Egyptian actor Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali doesn’t really counteract the racism behind the castings either, since obviously actors of more appropriate racial background were available for the major speaking roles. It’s all a product of its era, however, and we should be grateful that Sharif is in the movie at all. Granted, the first time you see Sharif, you’re more awed by one of the greatest character introductions in cinema history to really give a damn about such things. (Sherif Ali is one of the most underrated badasses of cinema.) Plus, he turns up before Faisal or Quinn’s Auda abu Tayi, so the problematic casting choices isn’t as apparent yet.

Since we’re on the subject of representation, I can’t think of a film that fails the Bechdel test as thoroughly as “Lawrence of Arabia” does, but I forgive it since it’s a war movie, which is a notoriously exclusively masculine affair, and a film about homosocial bonds anyway. Just saying in case you need an example at a cocktail party.

Anyway, all its representational problems aside, “Lawrence of Arabia” is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s also one of the epics that I judge all epic movies by. Only Abel Gance’s “Napoléon” really tops the epicness of “Lawrence of Arabia” in my mind. They lugged a 65mm camera around in the Tunisian desert, where they filmed scores of people, camels, horses and a train crash. The insanity of the location shoot in an era before computer effects is why things like “Avatar” fail to awe or impress me. It’s not just the film, it’s the story behind it.

365 Movies in 2014  ||  47/365 The Elephant Man (1980)

Director: David Lynch

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt and Anne Bancroft

Plot: A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.