#376- Earth

Quick recap: A group of farmers get together to buy a tractor, which makes the landowners angry and then BOOM! Communism is formed.

Sunflowers are the gateway flower to other governments

Fun (?) fact: There’s a deleted scene where the villagers all gather and pee on the engine of the overheated tractor. It’s supposed to represent communism of course, but people thought the symbolism was a little heavy-handed.

Why yes, I do in fact have the score from Fiddler on the Roof stuck in my head now

Thoughts and Observations:

  • From what I can gather, the issue at hand is that these kulaks (landowners) realize that if they work together and share, they can be much more profitable. The other landowners decide against it and then get angry when collectivism works. Point: Communism
  • But I think at one point the villagers knocked down the resistant landowners’ fences, which just isn’t very nice. Point: Capitalism 
  • The landowners retaliate by having one of them murder the guy who bought the tractor. Point: Communism
  • The guy that was murdered was named Basil and he did this REALLY elaborate dance to show it to the angry landowners. Point: Capitalism
  • Basil’s father announces he is Atheist because of the murder and denies the priest the opportunity to officiate the funeral. Instead the villagers will sing songs about farm life and working. Point: Capitalism because that sounds boring as hell
  • The movie was very confusing because even the happy scenes were filled with ominous, angry music, like when the villagers used the tractor. I spent about 10 minutes thinking the tractor was evil because of the sound cues. Point: Capitalism, I guess.

Was title said in film?

Probably. The movie is silent with only a few cue cards so I’m sure it was muttered at some point, considering they are working the earth.

Final review: 2/5  capitalism wins again! But only slightly because if Communism had peppier music, I would’ve been all in.

Up next: The Ten Commandments

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#375- The Ear

Quick recap: A Czechoslovakian couple finds their house bugged by the Communist party and they fear Ludvik, the husband, is about to be take away.

No matter who is after you, there is ALWAYS time to pose

Fun (?)fact: You’d better believe this film was banned! 20 years actually, not seeing the light of day until 1989.

maybe it was censorship and maybe it was because the world wasn’t ready for newspaper hats

Thoughts and Observations: 

  • This movie was as if someone watched Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and said, ‘ This is fun, but what if we added Communists?’
  • But unlike that film, the couple in The Ear didn’t seem believable as a real couple and there were way too many mood swings to keep up with
  • On the other hand, their house really was bugged with listening devices which would add stress on any marriage
  • My favorite aspects of the film were the flashback scenes as Ludvik recalls every conversation he had, looking for clues that they are on to him. A simple question from a friend takes on an ominous tone and everyone seems in on the deception. But are they really?
  • Although listening devices were found, the end of the film has Ludvik being offered a promotion so I guess that’s a happy ending? It sure didn’t seem like it was.
  • And I still wonder if Ludvik was actually working against his party or if he was just really paranoid? He burned a lot of documents but he didn’t seem to know if they were incriminating.

Was title said in film?

Oh yes, many times. Anna, the wife, refers to people listening in on her conversations as ‘The Ear’ and mocks the idea.

Final review: 2/5. I liked the tension build up but there was so much talking and fighting that the action took a backseat and I became bored.

Up next:

Earth

#374- Toy Story

Quick recap: A space ranger and a cowboy find out they can be friends despite their differences.

credit: Sushio

Fun (?) fact: The carpet in Sid’s house has the same design as the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in the Shining

My thoughts and observations (in no particular order):

  • I almost wish I hadn’t watched Toy Story 4 a few nights before viewing the original because one can’t exist without the other. Would Toy Story be as great if it was a stand alone film?
  • I remember freaking out about the details when I watched the original in theaters many years ago. The scuff marks on the door! The texture of Rex the Dinosaur! Even now, the digital graphics are impressive.
  • …….Except for the humans. All of them are frightening, especially Andy. Pixar would’ve been better off doing a Headless Nanny thing, a la Muppet Babies.

  • Something else that doesn’t hold up? The music. On one hand, I’m glad no one burst into song but on the other hand, did we really have to go with Randy Newman? He sounds like a parody of himself.
  • I still want to go to Pizza Planet. There’s a version of the restaurant at Walt Disney World but it’s not the same by a long shot

Final review: 3/5. I think this number would’ve been higher had there not been the sequels to carry out the story further. This is the origin and it does it’s job setting up the characters but it’s just not as funny as the other movies and doesn’t showcase all that Pixar is capable of.

Up next: The Ear

 

#373- Judge Priest

Quick recap: A judge dispenses good ol’ Southern wisdom with a lot of love and just a touch of racism.

Fun(?)fact:  Stepin Fetchit played Jeff Poindexter, a ‘stereotypical 19th century black male’ in Judge Priest. Despite mostly playing dim-witted characters on screen, Fetchit was considered very aggressive and cunning when it came to getting compensated like his white co-stars. He was one of the very first Black actors to fight for equal treatment in the entertainment industry.

My thoughts: If there is one thing I learned from this movie it is this: If you ever find yourself on trial in the Deep South, tell a story about your confederate great-great uncle while someone whistles Dixie. It’s apparently that simple. In fact, tying an issue somehow to the Civil War could really solve all of our current problems. See, many people in the South don’t believe that global warming and why should they? Right now it’s only affecting penguins and polar bears up north. However, rising oceans will become a problem very soon for states like Mississippi and Alabama, and there are a lot of confederate cemeteries there. Doing something about climate change pays honor and respect to those brave, racist soldiers!

Stepping off my soap box and back into this review, I really enjoyed most of this movie even though parts made me really uncomfortable. Judge Priest was a sweet guy and got along with almost everybody. And I think he was a good judge too, although mischievous ways, like paying Poindexter to play Dixie to tug at the heartstrings of the jurors is probably illegal. But still, it seems as though 19th century Southern small towns weren’t really concerned with following all laws, as long as justice was served at some point. The beginning of the movie has Jeff Poindexter in front of Judge Priest, accused of stealing chickens. It seems an easy conviction until Priest reminds the prosecutor about various times he did basically the same thing. Maybe that wouldn’t fly in a big city but in this instance, people were satiated with the outcome.

It’s hard to land on a true opinion about this movie because so much of it is steeped in racist culture. Poindexter and Priest are considered friends but he still bosses him around and has him do unethical things for money, like he’s a puppet. And Aunt Dilsey is a sweet housekeeper but very stereotypical in that she lives for taking care of Priest and her main social activities consist of cooking and going to church functions. Still, there are glimpses that the director very much knew that these black actors were capable of so much more but maybe the audience wasn’t ready. It’s surprising to see a film about the South not completely turn into African-Americans being the butt of all the jokes. But maybe I’m just surprised because the bar is set so low.

Final review: 3/5

Up next: Toy Story