#386- Neco z Alenky (Alice)

Quick recap: The classic story of Alice in Wonderland, if told by David Lynch and David Cronenberg. Probably not for children.

If this creeps you out, just wait!

Fun (?) fact: Unlike traditional stop motion films, Alice did not use any miniature sets for its effects.

Imagine a full size this!

Thoughts and observations:

I had a nightmare after watching this movie and it’s really no wonder I’m not more traumatized considering:

  • The white rabbit is full of sawdust and enjoys eating what leaks out of him
  • The movie takes place in a run down house where even the leaves piled up inside are somehow menacing
  • Whatever this is:

  • Alice turning into a life-size porcelain doll which she has to escape from

I could easily come up with 10 more examples but I think you get the point. This version of Alice in Wonderland is no fairytale. Director Jan Svankmajer envisioned something along the lines of an ‘amoral dream’ and he certainly was successful. I tend to have very vivid dreams and watching Alice’s journey trigged something familiar inside of me. I don’t know what that says about my brain but I can completely relate to this version. I especially loved the end when Alice woke up and saw all the parts of her dream surrounding her: the playing cards, the tarts and the stones. And then in the final scene she looks over and sees that the taxidermied white rabbit did actually bust out of his cage. She grabs a pair of scissors and says ‘off with his head’. I LOVE that the Alice in this movie is not a sweet girl but instead mischievous and sometimes just outright violent. I found myself both rooting for her and also enjoying when she got her comeuppance.

Watchability score: 4/5, if you can handle it

Up next: Chimes at Midnight

 

#385- Sabotage

Quick recap: A movie theater owner somehow gets involved with a terrorist group who want to SABOTAGE London. His wife and her little brother get dragged into the mess as well, which is usually how these things go.

The opening scene is a ‘Webster’s dictionary defines…’ trope

Fun (?) fact: Sabotage is not to be confused with the title ‘The Secret Agent’, the book the film is based off of. And also not to be confused with The Secret Agent, also directed by Alfred Hitchcock the same year but about something completely different.

Not many dames in this movie and only one spinning newspaper

Thoughts and observations:

This feels like my millionth Hitchcock film and although there were several director tropes I recognized, Sabotage still feels novel. I think what sold me is that the audience knows who the bad guys are from the very beginning so the tension comes from finding out when they will get their comeuppance. I really enjoyed the characters although I never really understood the relationship between Mrs. and Mr. Karl Verloc. They were married, obviously, but the two didn’t seem to match at all. Plus, there’s the dirty business of not knowing that her husband was a wannabe terrorist.

The best part of Sabotage is how dark it goes for a movie made in the 1930s. SPOILERS AHEAD. YOUVE BEEN WARNED.

I connected with Stevie, the little brother, early on in the film and appreciated how he could bring light into some really dark scenes. When Verloc told him to drop off the film canisters (along with the bomb) at Piccadilly Circus, I wasn’t worried because Hitchcock is known for building suspense. I actually just assumed that the bomb would be a dud so I audibly gasped when it went off and blew the bus up (as well as Stevie). Hitchcock said he regretting killing a character the audience had learned to sympathize with and promised to never to do it again. Until Psycho, that is.  It’s a dirty trick but really effective.

The end of the movie was also a whirlwind that I’ll keep from spoiling except to say that although there is a resolution, people were still killed and harm was done. I appreciate when the main characters don’t live happily ever after but are instead left to pick up the pieces.

Watchability score: 4/5

Up next: Alice

 

#384-The Naked Gun

Quick recap: Detective Frank Derbin is on the case to catch the person trying to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.

Fun (?) fact: Queen Elizabeth II did attend a real baseball game years later and thankfully was not assassinated.

Thoughts and observations:

What a true delight! This was my first time watching a Leslie Nielsen film ( I KNOW! Not even Airplane) and I can’t wait to watch more because this kind of humor is right up my alley. It reminded me of doing art projects as a kid- you throw glitter on everything and shake off the excess to reveal something truly beautiful. That’s Nielson in this film- throwing all the jokes and puns and visual comedy he can into every scene and the audience will pick something to love. It goes without saying but there were so many gags and one-liners I missed because I was focusing on some other joke. There isn’t much of a plot here but there doesn’t need to be. As is usually the tradition with comedy films I review, here is a list of some of my favorite scenes and jokes:

  • The first scene as the cop car light goes into the home and eventually on a roller coaster

 

  • The student driver scene

 

  • ‘Anyone catch the license plate?’ after Derbin’s own car drives away without him and causes a lot of damage

 

  •  The sex scene between Derbin and Jane Spencer

  • The baseball montage

Watchability rating: 5/5

Up next: Sabotage

 

#383- Terra em Transe (Entranced Earth)

Quick recap: A poet is somehow responsible for two leaders getting elected but he really sucks at choosing anyone decent

MRW the movie is over

Fun (?) fact: I spent the entirety of the film confused why Brazil was called Eldorado. Come to find out, this movie is a thinly veiled story about a real political mess and about the only thing that was changed were names. In other words, Eldorado is fake.

Thoughts and Observations:

I’m not going to pretend I understood a fraction of this movie. Even at the end I couldn’t tell you if anyone was ‘good’ or had the best intentions because everyone seemed to suck. The main character is Paulo Martins, a jaded journalist who somehow has a lot of influence. At first he supports the candidate that says he is for the people- that is until the people protest and many are killed. Oops! So Martins does a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand and somehow the conservative elite jerk wins the election and that’s somehow even worse than the previous guy who killed all those people.

Now, if I was Brazilian I might have related more to this movie but since I had no context for the time period, it was so hard to keep up with what was going on. I couldn’t even nail who Martins was sleeping with (turns out he shared a girl with another corrupt guy). I suppose the lesson is that in politics, everyone sucks and is not to be trusted. And maybe it’s best to just stay out of the race altogether. But what I took from it is that, as always, it is the people that get screwed over in the end and they should be the ones to hold all the power.

Stylistically, this movie looked more like a French avant-garde film than political thriller. There are straightforward scenes cut with a couple dancing and breaking glass and long shots of a man twirling around with a gun. I’m sure it was all symbolism but as referenced above, I couldn’t even figure out that Eldorado wasn’t real so I don’t know how the director expected me to understand the point of the guy dragging around a black flag and a cross.

 

Watchability score: 2/5, only because it’s a pretty film

Up next: Naked Gun