Saturday, July 16, 2016


All that Fluff

He Said:

Leaving Richard Gere's awful nasal singing aside, as that horribleness speaks for itself, this movie ultimately is just plain old boring. I simply did not care for Roxie at all, she is not a character that one is cheering for. After all, she did have affairs and kill a man, so why should I feel bad for her since she got locked up and is trying to evade the death penalty. I saw this movie shortly after it came out and did not particularly like it (I generally hate musicals, especially movie musicals) and was not looking forward to the second viewing.

I am not going to go into detail on the thread of a plot that exists in the movie (you can look it up online), but generally it follows a young woman, Roxie, who is desperate to enter the world of show business and cabarets, and ends up killing her affair for double crossing her and it follows her trying to get out of prison and the lawyer that is hired to help her. I think the whole thing could be done in about 30 minutes if you left out all the dancing and singing, and there is just not much to see here at all. I think Shannon sums it up best that this movie is simply ‘razzle dazzle.’ It is a boring, nearly plot-less movie covered up by using production numbers and songs. Somehow the Academy fell for it and decided to award it the best picture, that was a horrible mistake. I am not sure which of the others should have won (it was a bit of a soft year for films), probably the Pianist or possibly Gangs of New York, but certainly not this drivel.

She Said: Nothing but "Razzle Dazzle"

I remember really liking this movie when I saw it in the theatre. Heck, I own it. We're watching my copy right now. Which is all to say I was really looking forward to seeing it again, in that nostalgic "I loved that movie!" Kind of way.

Too bad.

So now we've watched it, I'm disappointed, and wondering what I saw in it. Sure, I love musicals, it was visually beautiful, and structurally interesting, but there wasn't enough emotion to carry it through. I wasn't invested in how it turned out, other than to see the next musical number. Heck, there were even parts of it I didn't remember. I'd still like to see it on stage sometime, because musicals were made for the stage, but I'm ready to retire my copy.

Other nominees: Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

Verdict: The academy was wrong

Next up: Gandhi

The Greatest Show on Earth

He Said: Possibly the worst best picture ever

Well...not sure where to begin with this train wreck of a movie. I was certainly not particularly looking forward to a movie from the 50s about the circus, but I thought it just might be an interesting insight into the circus world. The one up side of this movie is the bit of inside look into the circus as a documentary portion of the film, but the rest of the movie was very dull and boring.

The movie's focus is around Brad, played by Charlton 'From my cold dead hands' Heston, who manages the Ringling Brothers circus and his love affair with his center ring trapeze flyer Holly. But Brad decides to hire “The Great Sebastien,” and once the ‘debonair of the air’ arrives he is put into the center ring and the main act thus displacing Holly; inevitably leading to major trapeze flyer issues and in-fighting between Holly and Sebastien. Eventually a strange love triangle develops between Brad, Holly, and Sebastien where the trapeze artists are falling in love, but are still trying to one up each other by doing more elaborate and dangerous stunts. A few other cursory plot lines develop, although nothing significant, frankly the main plot line focusing on Brad, Holly, and Sebastien only makes up a very small portion of the movie time maybe about 20 or 30 minutes. The bulk of the movie seemed to be focus on seeing the circus at work, including the various circus acts (including trapeze artists, elephants, clowns, etc.), and documentary style portions showing how the circus moves around the country as it was actually moving around the USA, the set up, take down, and everything in between. Frankly that was interesting, it would have been nice to see a full documentary on the inner workings of the circus in the 50s rather than wasting our time with the awful plot.

Something that was really interesting is that according to what Shannon looked up, the actors who played Holly and Sebastien actually learned how to do the various trapeze acts, they didn’t use stunt doubles or special effects available in the 50s. Although that doesn’t specifically add to the overall enjoyment, it does make the actors stand out more in the film for their desire to really put themselves into the show, but even with that, the film is a huge bore.

She Said: The boringest movie on earth

I didn't have high hopes for this movie. I know Kurt was thinking it might be another "The Great Zeigfeld", and while it had all the spectacle, I just didn't care. Granted, I didn't care about Zeigfeld, either, but this movie had only the lamest of plots holding it together. Essentially, it's a documentary on the Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers Circus, with a ridiculous story trying to tie the bits together. I guess they didn't believe in documentaries back then. It's a shame, because the best part of the movie was seeing what circuses were like in their heyday. Even by the time I was a kid in the 80s, circuses had changed a lot. I'm not saying that's a bad thing (the poor elephants), but just that I had no idea what a "real" circus was like. I can see how they won the moniker of "Greatest Show on Earth". This movie was filmed on location/tour with a real circus... even the actors learned the acts in order to do their own stunts. Too bad they couldn't learn to act.

I did a bit of reading, and apparently this movie is considered one of the worst to have ever won Best Picture, and it only won because High Noon couldn't. These movies came out during the blacklist period in Hollywood, and High Noon was anti-McCarthyism, while Cecile B. deMille was a proper Republican. Now, as for why Singing in the Rain didn't win? I have no idea

Other Nominees: High Noon, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man

Verdict: The academy was horribly wrong

Next up: Chicago

Lawrence of Arabia

 This is gonna be one long desert ride Aurens

He Said:

This is long. And I don't mean 2 hours or 3 hours long. I mean 3 hours and 47 minutes long complete with a black screen overture and an intermission. For that reason we were putting off watching this movie for a long time as it sounded like a long boring old epic that would take us forever to watch. But we finally committed to it and watched it over 2 nights, and I was really surprised at how enjoyable it was. They certainly don't make movies like this anymore, and it is a real shame. I would have loved to see this in 70mm, as it was originally filmed, to see the amazing panoramic vistas of the desert and mountain scenes. That would have been simply amazing

The acting was okay overall, Alec Guinness seemed to channel his inner Obi-Wan (yes I know this was filmed 15 years prior to Star Wars) but it still reminded me of Obi-Wan, so I guess more appropriately, he channeled his inner Faisel when he did Star Wars. We could also have a long discussion about the fact that Guinness was chosen for a role of an Arab, however the 1960s was a different time, a period where that kind of thing was much more common and considered acceptable. Peter O'Toole's acting was what is expected of the time period, somewhat stiff and overacting in areas and not enough acting in others. But as a friend of mine said, people were easier to please back then.
Omar Sharif was actually probably the best actor of the group of main characters, although some of the minor actors did a good job as well. Overall the action sequences and drama were not as well done as what we are used to these days, but for the year it was made it was done pretty well.

The film seems to be divided into two halves, the first half filled with epic scenic gloriously cinematic shots and the long (and I mean long) travels of Lawrence across the desert. The second half is more about the military actions of Lawrence and the Arab tribes as they slowly fought their way to Damascus against the Ottoman Empire. I really got into this movie, partially because I am into World War I and a bit of WWI in the near east. I even pulled out the board game Pursuit of Glory to look at the maps and see where they were traveling and which villages they were attacking (Shannon laughed at me for doing this and thought I was weird that I even had maps for that region during WWI).
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this movie. It was filmed in such a breathtaking and eye catching way and in a slow but well-paced manner (certainly nothing like the films made in the past 50 years or so).
I am not so sure this would be the best film of the year, although the only other nominee I have seen is To Kill a Mockingbird. Mockingbird certainly had much better acting and the story was more important to tell in the 1960s, but I thought Lawrence of Arabia was an overall much better film. It might be a case of the Academy being really into the long epics and giving the award to that type of film, rather than something a bit shorter and tighter like Mockingbird. That all being said, it was a good movie, but if you aren't really interested in World War I in the near east, then this wouldn't hold much interest for you. If you are going to take the plunge, then read a brief bit on wikipedia about Lawrence and his adventures and campaign. I could tell the movie didn't do a great job of explaining things as Shannon was lost at times.

Overall, a really good movie for those interested in the era or interested in the cinematic aspects of film, but I could not say it belongs as a best picture.

Other nominees: The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird

Next up: The Greatest Show on Earth 1952