#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 taken 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.

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

#370- Pierrot le Fou

Quick recap: Ferdinand Griffon is tired of his bougie lifestyle so he takes off with ex-girlfriend, Marianne, who is maybe wanted by terrorists or something. Whatever the case may be, the two of them leave a trail of dead bodies in their wake and enough symbolism to last me the rest of this list.

I wish I knew how to quit you, French New Wave cinema

Fun (?) fact: Here is what director Jean-Luc Godard said about his film, in the most French way possible :  “it is not really a film, it’s an attempt at cinema. Life is the subject, with [Cinema]Scope and color as its attributes…In short, life filling the screen as a tap fills bathtub that is simultaneously emptying at the same rate.”

My thoughts: As I sit here drinking my canned wine after a full meal of hot dogs and potato chips, I cant help but feeling a little offended that Godard hates American culture. To be fair, it is American cinema he hates, although I doubt he felt anything sentimental towards the actual citizens. And so Godard set out to make a film that both satirized and showed his love for all things America. Which I think he did. Or did not. Hell if I know, actually.

Pierrot le Fou is the weirdest film to describe because although it has a linear plot about two lovers on the run, I never understood what they were running from or why they were killing so many people. But then I read up on trivia and saw that it was a satire and it kind of reminded me of the first time I saw Austin Powers. I thought the movie was hilarious but I only understood about 40% of it because I had never watched a James Bond film before. That’s what this movie is. If I had watched the films Godard was referencing, I think I would’ve understood what was going on a little better but since I didn’t, I just kept waiting for something to make sense. There are a few funny elements in the film but many of them are dark  I wasn’t sure if it was French humor or something else. I like to imagine audiences back in the 60s watching Pierrot le Fou and cackling every time Ferdinand reads a book or when Marianne pulls out her dog purse. But I felt left out of the joke.

That’s not to say that I was bored to tears or anything by this movie. The colors are gorgeous and so are the actors. I kept watching to see what would happen, even if I didn’t understand every little thing going on. The dialogue spoken was also confusing, like watching the Thin Red Line again. If I had turned off subtitles and just watched the action, I think I would’ve walked away from this with a much higher regard for Godard.

Final review:2/5

Up next: Toy Story

#369- Kiss of the Spider Woman

Quick recap: A man imprisoned for homosexuality is locked up with a political prisoner. The two develop a very deep bond despite horrible conditions. Think of it like the Odd Couple except not funny and someone dies. Cheers!

Fun(?) fact: Sônia Braga, who played several roles in the ‘film within a film’ part of the movie, spoke no English at the time. Instead, she memorized her lines phonetically.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a spider woman

My thoughts: It’s been difficult to decide on a direction for this movie because it is all over the place. It’s sweet at times, painfully sad, funny and also a mystery? But in the end, it just didn’t work for me. I’ll start by saying that I loved William Hurt and his performance is the reason I’m giving this film any points at all. The way he tells the ‘film within a film’ plot was magical and well worth sitting through the rest of this pile.

I think the many directions this movie takes is why I’m so hesitant to embrace it. If it had stayed a story about a gay man falling for his prisoner roommate who is very masculine, that would be fine. If it had just been about an unfair justice system and regime, that also would’ve worked. Hell, if it was just about William Hurt’s character Luis actually being an informant, that would also be compelling film. But all of these things plus two movies within this movie? There’s just too much to focus on. Luis himself is a mess so I get it to some degree. And I enjoyed not knowing what would happen next because of that. It felt more realistic to not predict what Luis would do after he got out of prison. At the end of the movie, however, I still hadn’t decided on how I felt about his character. Was he ever in love with Valentin or was it all an act so he could be released early? I guess if you look at the ‘film within a films’ it would seem as if he really did fall in love and saw himself as a sort of martyr. That would also explain the ending, which I won’t spoil for once.

I loved the way the scenes from the past were weaved in with the present, as well as the silent movie throughout the various scenes. It all made Kiss of the Spider Woman compelling to watch, even if the end wasn’t satisfying.

Final review: 2/5

Up next: Pierrot le Fou

#358- La Dolce Vita

Quick recap: Marcello Rubini proves that the paparazzi are really just the worst.

Me, getting home from work everyday

Fun (?) fact: I know I’m picking the most obvious one, but it’s still somewhat amazing. The term ‘paparazzo/i’ was coined in this film. Paparazzo is the name of Marcello’s photographer friend who chases down celebrities and the rich in order to get the scoop first.

Everyone, yes EVERYONE in this movie is the worst. Even that kitten in the previous gif.

My thoughts: I wouldn’t round my relationship with director Federico Fellini up to BFF status just yet, but we have certainly spent a lot of time together these last few years. I was introduced to his style with Juliet of the Spirits but it was Amarcord that won me over. I put my trust in him completely as a director. And honestly, with his movies, I felt invincible. ‘ If I can grasp the themes of 8 1/2,’ I thought to myself, ‘then I can understand any movie!’. But it was not to be, alas. Fellini, we’ve had some good times together but I just don’t know if I can forgive you for putting me through this movie.

I guarantee La Dolce Vita is one of those films people who call themselves ‘film enthusiasts’ love to tout as one of their favorites. And it’s not that I think they are full of it. I just don’t GET.IT.AT.ALL. There is not one redeeming quality about this movie whatsoever, except maybe the camera work. The gorgeous shots don’t come close to making up for the 3 hours of watching insufferable people do the most insufferable things like:

gathering friends around to listen to their poetry on vinyl

taking a famous actress around town and wading into a fountain in the middle of the night

trying to start an orgy at a party but no one is really into it so everyone just walks out to the beach and looks at a dead stingray

I had to brush up on the plot on Wikipedia because everything was just so disjointed and weird. One scene is at a site of a supposed miracle and then right after that, Marcello is taking his father out to a cabaret. The passage of time is loosely one week spent on the main character’s life but that’s also not really true because the end of the movie happens possibly years into the future. I know the good reviewer in me should have read on in the article about theme and symbolism but honestly, I was too worn out by watching everyone pick the worst possible choices in life.

Final review: 2/5

Up next: My Fair Lady