Viewing recap for March
Stop Making Sense (1984)
A concert film of the Talking Heads performing many of their well-known songs.
The band really go all out, in a very energetic show, dancing, running, jumping around. I love how he at the 30 min mark ironically asks, does anyone have any questions? And they all just yell and cheer.
It seems a lot of effort has gone into the background cards on stage, yet the show is called stop making sense. Maybe it makes sense, maybe it isn’t supposed to? Either way, it’s worth watching, as the music is great live.
The Hill (1965)
I saw it because SDG at U Me and Films has it in his top 100. I really liked it. An early Sean Connery movie, and quite possibly among his best films. A memorable depiction of a prison camp for disobedient soldiers, A simple story, but what lifts the film is the entertaining dialogue and fine performances. The scenario is ambiguous about how to discipline the inmates, the Major in charge says: “you would be lost unless someone shouted a bloody order at you” and “if you’re too easy on them, you won’t be able to do a damn thing with them, sir”
The Hunt For Red October (1990)
Submarine drama. For a Hollywood film, Sean Connery's character is surprisingly enigmatic.
It does lack a bit of tension the first hour, with too many boring dialogue scenes, if I had to find fault with the story. By the second hour there are more thrills and you begin to wake up.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989)
The third film in a row with Connery! Famous because he plays Indy’s dad, but after a while that was also the most annoying aspect of the film, with Harrison Ford calling him "dad" about 20x. It’s always entertaining and never boring, just the structure is a little too similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark. For me, I had the most fun with the trilogy when I was a child/teenager. Rewatching them as a 33-year-old, I wasn't wowed in the same way that I once was.
Night on Earth (1991)
Rewatch. Probably one of my favorite Jim Jarmusch films. Set in 4 cities ariound the world, at nighrt in taxi's. 4 stories that each last about 30 minutes. The first three are the strongest and very funny in places, while the last short in Helsinki was a bit of a downer.
Both driver and passengers are very talkative. I don't know if there is point to it all, though, besides the world is connected through humanity.
Swedish drama. An interesting idea, with memorable, likeable characters, and good performances. There’s quite a bit of humor and sadness. An entertaining story about a group of troubled people, who join a course, to escape their problems. The film is a bit clicheed, especially towards the end, so I'd call it good, rather than great.
SPOILER: The course they go on offers age-old truisms such as the importance of camaraderie, and learning to trust someone. There’s a feeling these people needed that, and had a significant experience. Taking risks and once in a while stepping out of your comfort zone in order to grow and gain confidence. These messages are hardly original, but cannot be repeated often enough, because they are vital in life.
Dutch drama I saw some time ago, directed by Alex van Warmerdam, that just missed out on my top 20 of 2013. It leaves you with more questions than answers. How much of the film is a dream, how much is actually happening? Are the strangers aliens, or merely a weird cult, who want to brainwash a family? The violence is quite sudden, and nasty, so it's not for everyone.
On a symbolic level, maybe it's about losing control, letting yourself disappear, and having other people decide things for you. Maybe it's about how we cannot understand foreigners. Perhaps the director is laughing at us for trying to find meaning in all the madness. You could accuse the film of not really being about anything at all, except the shocks. The kind of open-to-interpretation film, that could mean something different to each person who watches it.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
Good performances, especially Woody Harrelson was memorable, he has seldom been nastier.
Suspenseful racing drama chronicling the Formula 1 rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.
It helped I knew nothing about the 70s Formula 1 era.
About Time (2013)
Latest from Richard Curtis, the director of Love Actually. The main character’s voice-over is sooo similar to Hugh Grant, that it was kind of distracting. A charming, yet overlong romantic comedy. Goes on about 30 minutes too long, and the gimmick of going back in time to me becomes a bit repetitive.
The Last Samurai (2003)
The part when Algren (Tom Cruise) is with the samurai duing the winter was my favorite part. The last hour was a bit predictable, what would happen.
For a movie about war and conflict, it really is about the need for peace and understanding.
As talked about in the documentary Hollywood or History, it is revealed the movie is not completely accurate. The samurai are not angels, they were intimidating to the Japanese people, like an unelected government. The samurai were in fact the bad guys, wanting to go back to a bygone era when women had no rights, and a time when there was a caste system and no democracy. The Japenese Army were in reality not as bad as the film decribes, they were trying to introduce democracy to Japan.
My Father's Glory (La Gloire de Mon Père) (1990)
From the writer of Jean de Florette. Beautiful soundtrack in the opening credits. A depiction of childhood and growing up around the year 1900. It looks authentic, and is well-acted. But it doesn’t really stand out among other childhood movies, except the shooting expedition in the last 45 minutes. Perhaps it bored me the first hour, because there was no conflict.
If you enjoy stories that are very close to real life, and set in that era, you should give it a try. For me, only the last half of this movie is good.
Meet John Doe (1941)
The story has aged remarkably well. A man (Gary Cooper) needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent hero, whom Barbara Stanwyck character has invented so she can keep her job at the newspaper. I don't think I've ever watched a bad Frank Capra film, worth seeing.
American Gigolo (1980)
So after watching Arbitrage (2012) last year, and being entertained by the impersonation of him in The Trip, I was curious to check out Richard Gere's best performances. Directed by Paul Schrader, this movie feels like a Brian de Palma film. Told in a visually stylized way, which is probably the main reason to see it.
The plot turned out to be quite straightforward, just a standard crime drama. There was potential for something deeper, but it didn't quite happen.
The movie's main theme song "Call Me" sung by Deborah Harry & Blondie was a massive hit, and today a classic.
Favorite quote: “Are we talking about what he wants, or what you want? I can’t tell anymore”
Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
It was never boring, a story of a young Richard Gere, who comes from a troubled background, and goes into the Navy. He meets some people there. Entertaining, with a few surprises, but also a bit predictable.
Favorite quote: “Then be a friend, get out of here"
An influential French action/thriller directed by Luc Besson, which spawned a remake, and also a tv-series. The female main character is like a wild animal.
I liked how it didn’t go for a big action scene to finish, but something emotional instead.
I'm a fan of Eric Serra, and his soundtrack added to the films atmosphere. I’m surprised Anne Parillaud didn’t become a bigger name after this.
Agree? Disagree? Have you seen any of the above? What are the best films you saw during the month of March?
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This hasn't happened to me in a long time; I read about a movie and immediately recognized the plot and realized I had watched it a long time ago. It's Night on Earth, and now I finally know which the only Benigni film I have seen is - his performance in that one impressed me a lot, I remember. My mom is a big fan of An Officer and Gentleman so she once bought me the DVD but I never re-watched it. I also still need to see Rush, it's on my 2013 watchlist, mainly for Daniel Brühl. Also, I know next to nothing about 70s Formula 1 too, so that seems to be good.ReplyDelete
@Mette: Well you’re welcome, I’m happy I reminded you of Night of Earth :) Roberto Benigni is hit or miss with me, but he’s memorable in that role for sure.Delete
I’ve seen many of the famous 80s films, Officer & A Gentleman and American Gigolo I never got round to before. I guess Officer & A Gentleman is our parent’s favorite, because it was released when they were young. I tend to like films my parents enjoy, such as Sophie’s Choice and Bridge on the River Kwai, depends on the movie, though. By the way, I heard you on Film Pasture podcast, and wish you well for your gap year and Au Pair trip!
Thank you, I hope everything works out well!Delete
Nice mini reviews here Chris! You're on a Connery binge it seems like. Oh I LOVE Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, I saw it a couple of times recently and I loved it even more. It's probably my fave of the trilogy (not counting the abomination of the 4th one). Oh someone just mentioned about Meet John Doe in my review of Mr Smith Goes to Washington. That's one of Capra I definitely will be watching, he seems to always cast strong women in his films.ReplyDelete
@Ruth: Thank you! I guess I’m different to you, because the more I watch Indiana Jones, the less I like that series. I like the trilogy, but I can't really rank them. Indy films worked a treat when I was young, I like to remember them with nostalgia.Delete
I loved Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Meet John Joe is very good too, I hope you get to see it soon. Frank Capra rarely disappoints it would seem.
Great list of films. I see that you gave bigger ratings than usual. I guess you had a pretty good month film wise. From your list I have seen Night on Earth which I loved a lot, a great mix of stories, from funny to incredibly depressing. I guess I like Jarmusch since I loved the three movies that I watched from him, Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive and this oneReplyDelete
I watched the Indiana Jones original trilogy this week. Last Crusade is popular this week, I saw it also on U, Me and Films. It's pretty similar to Raiders which kills the fun but it has its moments like the father-son relationship, a fresh aspect in my opinion and also the tank scene which was great. It
s still not the weakest of the series.
Glad to see you enjoyed Rush, I liked it too. Can't say the same for About Time which was too quirky for my taste. Also it didn't make sense after some time.
By the way, I love Call Me by Blondie.
@Cristi B: Thank you! Stop Making Sense and The Hill were my favorites here, on reflection I might give them 4.5/5 on letterboxd.Delete
Jim Jarmusch is not for everyone, I’m slowly warming to his style. Agree about Broken Flowers and Night on Earth. Only Lovers Left Alive I loved the ideas presented, and it might grow on me with a rewatch, but on first viewing I disliked how slow and storyless it was-more on that film late in Oct for Halloween.
Last Crusade, yep, the father-son aspect is a fresh idea, and it works well. Connery and Ford have most of the best scenes in the movie(on the beach, in the castle tied up, the plane scene, the tank scene, the ending). Yet for me, the constant use of “Dad!” and “Junior” every time they opened their mouth annoyed me. Probably it’s nitpicking from my side, because they are entertaining and iconic movies.
About Time was cute in some moments, but I found it too repetitive. Rush was a fun movie.
“Call me“ is a brilliant tune by Blondie, used in a great way in American Gigolo when he's driving, and the movie also included instrumental versions of that song too.
You saw The Hill! You saw The Hill! You saw The Hill! and what's more important is you loved it. You have no idea how much that makes me happy, Chris. I have been recommending this film to everyone. It's a criminally under seen masterpiece even though it's directed by Lumet and stars Connery. More people need to see that film.ReplyDelete
As Cristi mentioned I also saw The Last Crusade this month. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't go on calling it great or anything. It's a fun movie and that's that! Also agree about Rush and About Time.
@SDG: haha :) You’re right, I'm not going to argue with you! I agree The Hill is a great film from the 1960s, that doesn’t get enough attention, even with Connery and Lumet. I probably wouldn’t have seen it, unless I found it on your top 100 list, so thanks again! Glad we agree it’s a great film :)Delete
Last Crusade is entertaining, but it doesn’t have anything to do with reality, I agree it’s just a fun blockbuster, that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Interesting bunch as always! I feel exactly the same about the Indy films being much, much better when you were a kid. Still, Last Crusade is my favourite of the lot. I found The Lat Samurai very emotional... interesting to hear the real history behind it. Might need to re-watch it some day.ReplyDelete
@Pete Turner: I suppose I’m not the only one then, who think Indiana Jones is better when you are younger! My favorite when I was a kid was Temple of Doom.Delete
Last Samurai is surprisingly emotional, especially the first half had me. That making of was quite enlightening.
You're definitely going into a Sean Connery phase, have you seen Zardoz? I haven't seen it though that costume he's in might make it worth it.ReplyDelete
I haven't seen some of the recent films in that list though I am thinking of seeing Stop Making Sense for this month's Blind Spot.
@thevoid99: Kind of by accident I saw 3 Connery films, because they were on TV. I’ve heard of Zardoz, I saw it mentioned as a cult movie, and I see it’s on letterboxd’s ”strangest films in existence” list.Delete
Stop Making Sense is great, and it helps reading the wikipedia page afterwards to understanding what’s going on up on stage.
Great list of movies you have on here. I do need to watch 'Stop Making Sense'. One of my friends says that its a good one. Anne Parilund I belive did follow up 'Nikita' with 'Innocent Blood' which was suppose to be her big American film, but it just didn't pull in that big of a box office.ReplyDelete
@TheVern: Stop Making Sense is worth the time, especially if you like concerts and Talking Heads.Delete
I haven’t seen Innocent Blood, the poster looks familar. Shame her career didn’t take off, but she still got job offers, so not too bad.
Well, repetitive is another word for About Time, I get it. Don't you think Rachel McAdams was playing safe by playing the role?ReplyDelete
@Andina: I liked Rachel McAdams, but it wasn’t a challenging role she had to work with. Happy you enjoyed About Time. My reaction was not as enthusiastic as you, but I guess it’s a movie for a female audience anyway :)Delete
Think The Last Samurai is my favourite Tom Cruise film. Maybe. Definitely up there.ReplyDelete
Rush is a solid film too - I knew about the Lauda/Hunt rivalry. But not the details of it. Was much more acquainted with F1 years later. But it's great that you can watch that film and not have to be an F1 fan.
@Jaina: Last Samurai is not my favorite Cruise film(that probably would be Magnolia, Rain Man, or Collateral), but it’s pretty good.Delete
That’s a sign of a movie done right, when someone who doesn’t care for F1 can still be entertained by Rush. The Lauda/Hunt rivalry was interesting to follow, both on and off the track.
I enjoyed Night on Earth although some of its segments were better than others. The Roberto Benigni section was perhaps my favourite but I do enjoy the first two set in America too.ReplyDelete
I haven't seen Stop Making Sense but I must check it out.
Indy Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favourites - a film I've returned to so many times! :)
@Dan: Night of Earth is enjoyable, and not as slow as other Jarmusch films. The first 2 segments set in America are my favorites.Delete
I can watch Star Wars over and over, but not Indiana Jones. I’m glad it works for you on rewatch!
You haven’t seen Stop Making Sense? I thought you’d seen practically everything from the 80s :)
Great group of films here. I love The Hunt for Red October and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but I really need to watch Nikita, Stop Making Sense, The Hill, Meet John Doe and Night on Earth.ReplyDelete
@Josh: Thanks! Hunt For Red October is probably my second fav submarine film, with Das Boot in first spot. Hope you get to see those other films.Delete