Monday, February 29, 2016


I'm the king of the 90s hair!

He Said: Talk to the Hand

I have seen this movie once before when it was out in the cheap theatre (at my spouse's birthday party before we started dating). I really didn't want to see it back then because of all the hype and it seemed like a boring romance with some disaster thrown in for good measure to keep the boyfriends/husbands happy. And then there was the “Leo-factor.” In the 1990s Leonardo DiCaprio was the it guy that all the teenagers were swooning over at the time. It probably started with his role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape and snow balled from there with Romeo and Juliet and then Titanic. At the time I hated him, he was uber popular for no particularly good reason other than his babyish looks (his acting was okay, but nothing to celebrate), and this just added to me not wanting to see Titanic. But it was my friend's birthday so I went along with it. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the first half, with the character development, etc, but I really didn't like the disaster half. It was so long winded and I felt like, okay it sinks we get it, just get on with it already! The sinking part was so boring, and the special effects were good at the time but even so it just dragged on. I figured it was James Cameron just trying to one up himself from his previous special effects efforts.

Now time for the second viewing. I actually forgot about how long the first bits are with Rose as an old lady, but I guess that is necessary to set the stage for the whole plot. While watching it this time around I wanted to see if it really is a classic and something that withstood the test of time (it has been almost 20 years since it was first released!) or a bombshell that hit it huge when it was first released but has since faded to unwatchableness. I have immediately noticed how the computer special effects are very dated, and what was breathtaking back then is cartoonish and antiquated now. Although this is the same with any movie that relies so heavily on special effects, the development in special effects is amazing (although I still prefer real movies and hate computer generated special effects) and the special effects of today's movies are outdated within just a few years, let alone 20 years. This movie really is a visual feast with the huge set designs and costumes and special effects, and it seems like the plot of the rich woman and poor boy is just tagged on to give us some reason to watch it.

Another disappointing aspect is the hair. I don't know who was in charge of haircuts for that movie, but none of the main characters have anything remotely resembling period hair from the 1920s. Leonardo has his 1990s Leo hair, Billy Zane has his bad ass 1990s hair (although he does slick it back a few times), and Kate Winslet has her Kate Winslet flowing curly dyed red locks. When I first watched it, I thought nothing of the hair, maybe because I was younger and didn't care about hair cuts and costumes in movies, maybe it was because it was the 1990s and I enjoyed seeing hair from the 1990s. But watching it now, I found it very distracting to see non-period hair (strike 2). Billy Zane was his typical 1990s creepy villian, which he does really good, but it is the same character that he has been doing since Back to the Future and I think it is high time to see something different from him. Overall, the plot much more boring this time around than I remember it being before. Was it because I had seen it once already or was there something more sinister afoot? I am not entirely sure. The plot is absolutely nothing new or inspiring, we have seen this sort of thing a million times before, but it was also likely more boring this time around as I was familiar with the plot, even if I hadn't seen the movie in 20 years.

I have seen a few of the other nominees, and frankly I don't think this was a particularly good year for movies. I certainly enjoyed As Good as it Gets and L.A. Confidential better than Titanic, but I couldn't see either of those as being best pictures. I would say the Academy went for the big showy epic, with big special effects, especially as there wasn't much in the way of good competition for films that year. Ultimately I cannot say this is a best picture and it certainly does not stand the test of time. This movie should be left in the 1990s along with Leo's and Zane's hair and James Cameron's career.

Other nominees: As Good as it Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, and L.A. Confidential

Next up: Lawrence of Arabia 1962 (oh my this going to be a long one)

Sunday, February 28, 2016


mmm, this skull is so soft on my skin, not rough like sand

He Said: To Watch or not to watch...

This is one we were not looking forward to at all. We had been dragging our feet for a long time, procrastinating, to avoid watching this oldie. It isn't that I don't like Shakespeare, I do like some Shakespeare a great deal, but a Shakespeare play filmed in the 1940s was not something I was looking forward to. Then add on the fact that it is one of the most commonly produced plays and one of the most boring and it makes it an exercise in will power to watch this film. But eventually we settled in for a two night viewing of this classic and it was more or less what I expected it to be. 

For starters it is an impossible task to determine if the Academy got this one right as I haven't seen any of the other nominees (does seeing The Red Shoe Diaries on Showcase back in the day count as a substitute for The Red Shoes?) nor have I seen anything else from 1948, but I can at least say if I was entertained and enjoyed the film. In short, no, but there were aspects to the film that interested me. 

I am sure most people know the plot line of Hamlet so I won't regurgitate that (if you don't, then look it up on wikipedia). In short, some people die, there is back stabbing and revenge, and more people is a Shakespeare tragedy after all. Even though I knew the general plot, there were times that I was lost and didn't really know who the minor characters were and forgot how they were connected with each other. But a quick check on wikipedia was all it took to bring some clarity. Now I doubt this feeling of being lost had much to do with the movie specifically and more to do with Shakespearean plays, I often find it hard to follow the minor characters in the plays in the first or second act. I did happen to pull out a copy of Hamlet and tried to follow along with the movie just to see how in keeping with the original text it was. The movie does, for the most part follow along fairly closely, although there were a couple scenes that were reversed in the movie compared to the play, I am not sure why they were reversed nor do I feel that it was an issue with continuity. The production and quality of acting was quite good and overall it was a good film. The problem is that I don't care about Hamlet as a play and I tend to prefer watching Shakespeare on stage or reading it rather than watching it on film. 

So overall a good movie, but best picture? Not so sure about that one, the jury will likely remain out indefinitely on this as I don't foresee myself watching any of the other nominees ever.

Other nominees: Johnny Belinda, The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Next up: Titanic 1997 (Jack! Jack, jack, jack)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bridge on the River Kwai

I am more stubborn than you!

He Said: Comet, it makes your mouth turn green. Comet, it tastes like gasoline...

I think I would rather eat comet than watch this movie again. For those not familiar with this movie, it features Obi wan Kenobi, I mean Alec Guinness, at his finest. I think he once said that it was one of his favourite performances. Guinness is Colonel Nicholson who is captured by the Japanese along with his soldiers. The Japanese need to finish constructing a railroad bridge and decide to use the British POWs to finish the work in time. The movie is based on a novel which is very loosely based on the real-life construction of the Burma railway.
First half of the movie was quite boring and not much interesting there, although it does set the tone for the second half which is a fair bit more interesting. Guinness' acting is pretty darn good, but the whole movie was mostly just who cares. The story of how the Nicholson was such a proud British soldier that he would command his troops to build the best bridge possible in order to help the Japanese with the war in southeast Asia seems a bit weird and far-fetched, but I suppose possible. The last 20 minutes or so is really quite something to see, it is just a shame you have to sit through 2 hours of boredom to get there. Frankly this movie just makes me want to watch Star Wars. Obi wan Kenobi you're our only hope.
Of the other nominees, I have only seen 12 Angry Men, and it is really quite a great movie. I can see why the Academy would pick Bridge on the River Kwai however, as it is a really big epic war movie that they seemed to be obsessed with in the 1950s and 1960s. But I much prefer 12 Angry Men and have seen it and its remake many times. So save yourself the trouble, watch Star Wars and then the original 12 Angry Men, followed up by Dr. Stangelove (as much as I like the original 12 Angry Men, I love how crazed George C. Scott gets in the remake).

Other Nominees: Sayonara, Peyton Place, Witness for the Prosecution, 12 Angry Men

Next up: Hamlet from 1948 (yay, can't wait for that)

Monday, February 22, 2016


 Ben Affleck...with beard...and shaggy Iran

He Said:

This is one that I was actually looking forward to seeing even before it won best Oscar but then having won best Oscar made it something I wanted to see even more. As a note I am not getting into how the film is not very historically accurate, especially in regards to how the Iranians were displayed, nor will I get into how the movie glosses over how much work the Canadian government actually did to help.

Heading into the movie, I only knew the smallest amount of the plot. I knew about the hostage crisis taking place during the 1979 revolution, but I didn't know any details on how many people, how long, if they survived, etc, and I knew nothing of the 6 people that escaped the embassy early on that the movie focuses on. I guess I was naïve about it, and since it happened when I was born I missed out on all the news coverage going on at the time, although no one really knew about the 6 escapees until 17 years later when the operation was declassified.
This makes me wonder how much information there is that is classified and what it is all about, it often seems that some fairly innocuous information is kept classified for much longer than it needs to be. 

The plot, as I am sure you all know, is about the CIA making a fake movie production for a sci-fi movie called Argo in order to break out the 6 escapees. The first half of the movie is the set up and how they go about getting the fake movie put together. Then the second half is the operation in Iran. And that's about all there is to it.

The movie feels real quick, not slow anywhere, but not as quick as an action movie, so the pacing is great. The acting is good throughout, the directing was good, overall a real good production. The story was interesting, in that I didn't know any details of it, and it kept me generally interested, but not to the extent of really great movies that I just love to watch over and over. This is a one and done kind of movie. I don't think I will ever watch it again, although watching the special features will probably be really interesting, since I am far more interested in what actually happened than the dramatic production that this film was. That all being said, I don't know if that makes or breaks a best picture. Does it have to be something worth sitting through multiple times? Generally I would say yes, but it also depends on what else was out that year. And as we go through that list, I don't think there was anything as good as Argo. So it kind of wins by default. Argo is certainly better than Django Unchained, as much as I love Tarantino films that one was just too long and silly at the end. It is most definitely better than Life of Pi, that movie was so boring I could only sit through the first half of it, even though I loved the book. I guess the transition from book to film just doesn't work well in some instances. I haven't seen the other nominees, but the only others that I could imagine that could come close to best picture are Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, which is another classified spy take down production.

I would agree with the Academy on this one, but asterisk by saying it wins since it is better than the rest this year and not that it was an outstanding movie, but still enjoyable.

Next up: The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 – Obi-wan Kenobi you're my only hope, oops wrong movie