Monthly Archives: June 2009

Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

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I’m afraid of everything – birds, storms, lifts, needles – and now, this great fear of death…

— Cléo

Based on the recommendation of Jimmy, one of the co-hosts of the Scene Unseen podcast, I watched writer/director Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 on The Auteurs. This is a Criterion presentation. At first, the way the action flowed in real time bothered me, but the ending is some wonderful that I could forgive it.

Florence (Corinne Marchand) is a famous singer living in France by the stage name of Cléo Victoire. In the beginning of the film, she visits a psychic, Madame Irma (Loye Payen) to tell her about the results of a biopsy she had done two days prior. Cléo wants to know if she has cancer.

The whole movie is about the time that the audience follows Cléo wherever she goes after visiting the psychic and before she gets the results from Dr. Valineau (Robert Postec).

She goes on with her day, trying push her looming fate out of her mind, but she can’t. Her friends cannot keep her busy. She is preoccupied with pending results.

The movie is not everyone’s cup of tea. There tinges of melodrama that is understandable with a star diva-ing out. Other than that, this is a charming, romantic and ultimately optimistic perspective.

Judgment: If you wants to slice of Paris life, watch this film.

Rating: ****1/2

North by Northwest (1959)

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Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.

— Roger Thornhill

Being the last day of June, I will continue to watch more classic movies from now on. Watching another Alfred Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest. It was nominated for three Oscars. It is currently#30 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDB. This is another example of why Hitchcock is underrated as a director.

Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is an ordinary advertising executive that is caught up in a complex spy game when he is kidnapped by two henchmen, Valerian (Adam Williams) and Licht (Robert Ellenstein).

He is taken to estate by the name of Townsend. There is a man named Robert Vandamm (James Mason) thinks that he is an international spy named George Kaplan. Robert and his right hand man, Leonard (Martin Landau) question him about his intentions.

This tale of mistaken identity has many twists and turns that will spoil the movie.

Judgment: Another great movie by Hitchcock that should be seen.

Rating: ****1/2

Up (2009)

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Thanks for the adventure. Now go have one of your own.

— Ellie

As you probably know by now, my love for Pixar movies have been waning lately. Their last two efforts were not as good as they were advertised in my opinion. I had some hesitation when I saw their latest release, Up this weekend.

The movie is currently #22 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDB. It also has a Metacritic score of 88. The movie is good, but the movie has some serious plot holes.

The story revolves around a 70-year-old cantankerous balloon salesman, Carl Fredericksen (Ed Asner) that recently lost his beloved wife, Ellie. Their promise to each other is to visit Paradise Falls in South America when they get older.

Plans change when Ellie dies, a land developer wants Carl to leave in order to build a new building. He gets in trouble when he assaults of the contrcution workers and they want him to go into a retirement community.

Carl decides to take the trip to Paradise Falls by tying thousands of balloons to his house and flies over to South America.

Carl doesn’t realize that Russell (Jordan Nagai), a pudgy boy scout was on his porch when the house lifted.

In South America, they encounter a large colorful bird, a talking dog named Dug (Bob Peterson) and an unexpected villain.

I enjoyed this movie, but there was some things that doesn’t ring true. I was discuss that in the spoiler section of the review.

Judgment: This is solid effort by Pixar with some flaws.

Rating: ****

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FB Recommendation: “Sense And Sensibility” (1995)

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Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?

— Marianne

This was one of my favorite movies from 1995, Sense and Sensibility. Flipping through the channels, this movies popped up on the screen. Had to watch it.

Being transported back to 19th century England where the Dashwood family is dealing with the death of their patriarch, John (Tom Wilkinson). They are left destitute after the first Mrs. Dashwood acquires all of his assets.

Trying to find their way in society, they try to marry distinguished men to help their family survive. The mother (Gemma Jones) wants the best for her family. There is the older sister, Elinor (Emma Thompson) that is in love with Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant), but he is already engaged.

Marianne (Kate Winslet) falls for a handsome gentleman, John Willoughby (Greg Wise) who does not reciprocate her feelings.

There are mix of love, heartbreak, duty and romance in this Ang Lee directed film.

Judgment: I love this costume English dramas. Go watch this film.

Rating: ****1/2

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

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Sometimes angels rush in where fools fear to tread.

— Dudley

During the height of the Hayes Code era and the sanitation of cinema, a lot of movies were subjected to rewrites. Religious themed movies boomed and that’s why we have The Bishop’s Wife.

Based on the novel by Robert Nathan, the movie went along to be nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. This movie was remade in 1996 as The Preacher’s Wife with Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston and Courtney B. Vance. The remake is better this movie.

Bishop Jack Brougham (David Niven) is determined to build a grand cathedral that he cannot sense that he neglecting his own family. One night, he prays for guidance and a suave, debonair angel named Dudley (Cary Grant) comes into his office offering his assistance.

Over the course of the movie, Dudley coerces his way into the Brougham’s lives. He tries to steal Jack’s wife, Julia (Loretta Young). He uses his powers of persuasion to have everybody to obey his commands. It’s like they’re dogs. Women, children, the elderly, the help are under his spell.

Everybody fawned over Dudley. The endless stares at him. It’s like Twilight in the 40s. It got annoying after awhile. Dudley’s motivations turned me off to this movie.

Be prepared to roll your eyes constantly.

Judgment: This movie tried to be all sentimental. It’s drivel. Watch the remake instead.

Rating: **1/2

The Proposal (2009)

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Do you prefer Margaret or “Satan’s Mistress”?

— Grandma Annie

Back from my Juneteenth out of town engagement, and also being a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, The Proposal was next on my radar. Going into the movie, knowing that the premise would be ridiculous from the get-go. It’s a typical romantic comedy that worse than typical. It’s almost of parody of itself.

Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a “bitchy ice queen” NYC book publisher that is a cross between a spayed version of Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada, and Bullock’s character in the much maligned Crash. She rules the her publishing office with an iron fist? She is running her frazzled assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) ragged.

Margaret is called into Chairman Bergmen’s (Michael Nouri) office that say that her visa has expired and she has to be deported back to Canada. She decides that she and Andrew will get married in order to stay in the country and keep her powerful position in the company.

That’s the ridiculousness of the premise. Canada? Really? She doesn’t want to go back to Canada. What’s so bad about Canada? Shit. Being an natural born American citizen, I would go to Canada. Whatever.

Margaret is shocked that she has to go to Alaska to visit Andrew’s family in order to convince the immigration officer, Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) that they are a “real deal” couple. Spare me, your feigned shock.

When the twosome arrive is Sitka, Alaska, all hell breaks loose. Margret finding out that Andrew family is welathy by small town standards.

The movie was so mind numbing. So dull. I didn’t care about the much talked about “running into each other nude” scene. The setup for that was preposterous. The scenes with Craig T. Nelson who plays the father and Ryan were excruciating to watch. Malin Ackerman’s character is named Gertrude. Let that marinate for a hot minute.

The typical ending did not make sense. Understanding Margret’s intentions to fall for Andrew were displayed, but there was not a moment that Andrew would fall for Margret. Not one instance. What a cop out.

The only laugh out loud moments were Betty White, who plays Grandma Annie and Oscar Nuñez who plays Ramone. That’s it.

Judgment: Another cookie cutter Hollywood rom-com that is not worth the price of admission.

Rating: **

The Hurt Locker (2009)

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You’ll know when you’re in it.

Currently out of town for the moment, there was a chance to see a special advance screening of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, The Hurt Locker. Not being familiar with her filmography, this was a solid character piece about broken soldiers trying to survive in war torn Iraq.

This is not just another anti-Iraqi war propaganda movie. This is a movie about Bravo company, a crew dealing the de-arment of roadside bombs.

When the movie starts, Bravo company deals with the loss of their leader, Sgt. Matt Thompson (Guy Pearce) from one of the roadside bombs. A hard-headed maverick, Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) joins Bravo company at the tail end of their year long tour.

He immediately butt heads with Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie). William doesn’t follow protocol and does things his way, not the Army Way.

This film follows the lives of William, JT and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) as they try to survive active combat.

The filmmaking was superb. Even though this film was shot in the desert, it was very alive, not monochromatic.

Judgment: Go see this film when it opens later this month and wider in July.

Rating: ****1/2

“The Road” Trailer

I totally forgot about the trailer for “The Road” that was released a couple of weeks ago. It had a slew of controversy over the stock footage that was placed in the beginning of the trailer to make more marketable to audiences. This movie was delayed for a year because the Weinstein Company wanted to push “The Reader” in it’s place. Big mistake.

I guess the whole Slumbog “Slumdog Millionaire” craze has died down. Finally! This is the next big Oscar contender at the end of the year.

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron. The movie will have a mid-October release.

New Fame Trailer

I was a HUGE fan of the original film from 1980. When I heard that a remake was happening, I had mixed emotions about it. A new generation is going to see a movie that I loved, but it might be all flash and no substance. I will hold judgment when the movie comes out in September.

It stars Debbie Allen, Megan Mullaly, Kelsey Grammar and slew of unknown actors.

The Rules of the Game (1939)

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The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.

— Octave

Thanks to the fantastic Michael Vox from the Cinebanter podcast for turning me on to They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? which has a constantly updated list of the 1,000 Greatest Films of All Time. Deviating from the users voted upon list of the greatest films of all time, I wanted to get a real deal Holyfield.

Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game comes in a number #3. This is a Criterion collection and the enjoyment was felt throughout this movie.

Much like Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, this films deals with the trials and tribulations  with the upper crust of French society before the start of WWII.

A transatlantic pilot named André Jurieux returns from his trip to find that the love of his life, the Austrian transplant Christine (Nora Gregor) did not meet him. He is heartbroken. His friend, Octave (Jean Renoir) becomes his consular as he is tries to kill himself.

Christine’s husband, Robert de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio) knows about André’s intentions toward his wife. He wants to invite him for the weekend at their country estate, La Colinière. Robert also invited his longtime mistress, Geneviève de Marras (Mila Parély). He is trying to break off their relationship.

The subsequent days are filled with hunting for game, unrequited love, and an escape from lives.

It was refreshing take on the comedy of manners genre. The only problem with the movie is the character of André. He is heartbroken. It’s understandable, but he needs to get over it. His character is very one note.

Judgment: It’s a fabulous movie. End of story.

Rating: ****1/2

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