#76- Groundhog Day

Quick recap: Phil Connors, local weatherman, is sent every year to the town of Punxsutawney to report on Groundhog Day. After a bad day  makes him hate the town even worse, Connors wakes up the next morning and realizes he has to repeat the holiday over again. And again. And again. And again. And……you get the point.

Fun (?) fact: Many people have been stuck in their own time loop (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) trying to calculate how long Groundhog Day lasted for Connors. The official estimate is 10 years, although I would say close to 30. One recent calculation came to over 1000 years.

I should try this with my cats!

I should try this with my cats!

My thoughts: As you may have picked up on, the Internet loves to obsess over certain celebs. One of the earliest examples was Chuck Norris when people started making up facts about him. And then everyone collectively realized that Norris was a hardcore christian and slowly backed away. More recently, Bill Murray has been the target of such adoration. He recently did a Reddit AMA and answered hard hitting questions like ‘Why the hell did you do those Garfield movies?’ I’m not normally one to get on the Internet bandwagon (except with doge, because that stuff is hilarious), but for once I believe the attention given to Murray is justified.

how I wish this were true

how I wish this were true

I can’t say I have seen too many of Murray’s movies, but I’ll go ahead and put my money on this being one of his best. I came into this movie thinking it would be just a comedy, nothing too special. And this movie definitely is funny. There were several scenes I loved, but mainly watching Murray’s expressions was good enough. At one point, as he realizes he will be stuck reliving the same day over and over again, he decides the only way out is suicide. He drives his truck off  of a hill, he jumps from a building, he stands in front of a car to get hit. The tone became much more dark and the true horror of the situation started to sink in for me. I have no idea what I would do if I were stuck in a time loop, but I imagine it would drive me insane rather quickly. Murray manages to convey the underlying seriousness with humor instead of veering into the ‘sappy moral lesson’ path.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that there was a moral lesson in Groundhog Day. The reasons are unknown as to how Phil Connors got into this situation, although I think it’s just bad karma from being a jerk. It is only after he realizes that being nice to people gets you stuff that he is able to escape to February 3. I don’t think it would hurt for a people to let that one sink in for a bit.

no reason for this picture except that I really like the doge meme.

no reason for this picture except that I really like the doge meme.

Final review: 5/5. I could see myself watching this as a yearly tradition because in all seriousness, Groundhog Day is kind of a stupid holiday.

Up next: The Postman Always Rings Twice

 

 

#70- City Lights

Quick recap: Charlie Chaplin plays the Tramp, a guy just trying to get by. As he bounces along the city, he falls in love with a blind woman and becomes friends with a millionaire who only seems to like him after he has been drinking.

City-Lights-Charlie-Chaplin

 

Fun (?) fact: The gibberish heard at the beginning of the film as the statue is being revealed was done by Chaplin. It is the first time his voice can be heard on film.

My thoughts: I was lucky enough to get to enjoy City Lights on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse. I almost went insane at the beginning of this project, sitting through all of those silent films. Many of them were good, but it still wore on me after awhile. It’s the very reason I decided to change things up and watch the movies in a random order, rather than chronologically. My love for the silent film almost returned with Metropolis and now I can fully embrace it again with this film. These early films were created for the big screen and I doubt I would’ve enjoyed Chaplin as much if I had been sitting at home. One of the best parts of the experience was not the movie itself, but being able to participate as an audience member. We collectively swooned when the Tramp was courting the Blind Woman and laughed when he got himself into another situation. I don’t use the word often but it was delightful, being a part of this. I felt like I had been transported back in time, watching it as if it had just come out.

city-lights-3

 

I admit to not knowing much about Chaplin before watching City Lights. I knew him as a silent film star and to me that meant a lot of slapstick. At the time this film was made, ‘talkies’ had started creeping into the moviegoer’s experience. Despite the trend, Chaplin firmly believed that he could make a successful silent film, and he was proven correct tenfold, seeing as how this movie is considered as one of the greatest of all time. From the very first scene, when the Tramp is napping on a statue that has just been revealed to the public, I was hooked. Chaplin had a way to convey emotions so eloquently without saying a word. He is charming, to the point of being adorable. He is a good person, just trying to get by. And when bad things do happen to him, he takes it all lightly and pushes forward. One of my favorite scenes that show what a genius Chaplin is, occurs right after he and the Millionaire have fallen into the water. The Millionaire invites the Tramp back to his house, and as they ascend up the steps, he turns around and grabs the flower he had bought from the Blind Woman. It was such a simple gesture, but the way he does it conveys all of the love that he has for this woman.

I was a little apprehensive about seeing all the slapstick comedy because it’s not really my thing. I was worried that the outdated form would distract me from the movie, but it did the opposite. Instead, it showed me the beauty of a perfectly timed bit. The scene where the Tramp becomes a boxer in order to earn money for the Blind Woman is like watching ballet. It was very funny, but also beautifully done. I think I laughed hardest during the scene when the Tramp swallows a whistle and makes a sound every time he breathes. Once again, Chaplin has no need to say anything because his face is so full of expression.

city-lights-prizefighter

 

And of course, the ending. The ending to City Lights is considered one of the greatest ever done. Not because there is anything spectacular, but because of its simplicity and once again, beauty. Throughout the film, the Tramp does what he can to become closer to the Blind Woman. He cares for her daily after she falls ill and does what he can to find money so that she can continue to live in her apartment. Somehow, the Tramp is able to get enough money to also help the Blind Woman see. The final scene happens when the two meet for the first time and she can finally see. The Blind Woman had been convinced the Tramp was actually a millionaire and the expressions she conveys as she realizes it is really this man in tattered clothing, is perfect. But the real beauty of it all is watching Chaplin as he is so excited to be seen and so, so hopeful. I am not a very emotional person when it comes to movies, but this one really got to me. It was also comforting to hear other audience members sniffling as the lights went back on.

 

 

city-lights-1931-charlie-chaplin-silent-movie-review-image-42Final review: 5/5. Of course. If had to choose one movie to make people watch from this list, this would be it.

Up next: Cleo from 5 to 7.

 

#69- Brazil

Quick recap: Sam Lowry holds a low level government job in the not so distant dystopian future. He’s happy with things the way they are, except for the bizarre dreams he has of rescuing a beautiful woman. Once he realizes she is in fact real, he makes it his life mission to find and save her.

Brazil-Daydream

Fun (?) fact: Terry Gilliam, the director of Brazil, was involved in a long battle against a studio company not wanting to release his film. At one point, Gilliam took out a full page ad in Daily Variety asking when the studio was going to release his film.

That's the way to get things done

That’s the way to get things done

My thoughts: Cool story bro: On the day I was going to watch this movie, I had somehow gotten Billy Joel’s ‘My Life’ stuck in my head .(Just kidding. I know exactly how it was done. BLACK MAGIC) After leaving the theater, the curse was lifted and now I have the theme to Brazil stuck  instead. It’s not as bad as Billy Joel, because, let’s face it, nothing is. Also, there were a ton of variations to the theme so it’s almost like a new song each time.

Billy-Joel-285x300

 

So, besides this being one of my husband’s favorite movies (not one of several husbands. One of several movies), I love Monty Python and therefore, knew I would enjoy Brazil. The movie did not disappoint, but I admit to being a little confused by the whole thing. I hadn’t read up on the movie beforehand so I didn’t know that it is commonly characterized as a ‘dystopian satire’. It’s a totally apt description. The very beginning of the film involves an innocent man being whisked away from his family, presumably to be executed. I was a little surprised by the violence, but then one of the officers makes the wife sign away her husband, making sure she signs in the correct spots. She is then given a receipt and everyone leaves. The woman is hysterical by what has happened, yet she stops crying long enough to sign the forms correctly. Another example happens when Lowry goes out to dinner with his mother and while they are eating, a terrorist attack occurs in the restaurant. As people lay dying and bleeding to death, Lowry’s table continues eating as if nothing has happened. The waiter even brings over a partition so they won’t be bothered by the gruesome scene. I am blown away how Gilliam was able to  blend the dystopian scene with satire so seamlessly.

The dystopian society itself interested me tremendously. In this ‘retro future’, everyone is materialistic, and yet they are surrounded by the shoddiest things. Lowry’s apartment, for example, is fully automated so that he doesn’t have to lift a finger in order to get ready for work. However, nothing works right: His alarm is set wrong, he has to plug in several wires just to answer the phone, and his breakfast is ruined when the machine pours the coffee all over the toast. Also, as a major plot point, there are these pipes that are everywhere. When his heating system breaks down, Lowry phones the Central Services line to get someone to fix it. Instead, a man intercepts the call and does the work much more efficiently. It is at this point that Lowry’s eyes are open. Another characteristic of this society is that paperwork rules all. Hardly anything gets done because of the vast amount of paperwork involved. Innocent people are routinely killed because the government believes the paperwork is infallible.

Brazil_movieI realize I haven’t really touched on the plot of this movie very much, and there is a reason for that. I feel like this movie will be best be enjoyed if you have no idea what you are getting into. Everything was a surprise and I had no idea how it would all end. The ending, in fact, is one of the main controversies with Terry Gilliam and the movie studio. I feel like the less said, the better about this one. brazil2

Final review: 1/5 and 5/5. Much like Moulin Rouge, I imagine Brazil to be polarizing. Many people will dismiss it as too weird, but I respectfully disagree. I would love to watch it again to see what else I pick up on, humor-wise.

Up next: Cleo from 5 to 7

 

#62- Citizen Kane

Quick recap: Charles Foster Kane, newspaper magnate, dies and his last word is ‘rosebud’. A reporter is sent out to investigate what the word means, in hopes of getting to the bottom of who Kane really was.

1f01_015

 

Fun (?) fact: It’s no secret that William Randolph Hearst wasn’t a fan of Citizen Kane, seeing as how the main character parallels many points from Hearst’s life. Orson Welles has stated several times that the inspiration for Kane was based off of several sources, not just Hearst. Nevertheless, one time Welles and Hearst were in an elevator together, during the San Francisco premiere of the movie. Kane asked Hearst if he would be attending and Hearst ignored him. As he got off on his floor, Welles replied, ‘Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.’

pretty sure I have a thing for Orson Welles now.

pretty sure I have a thing for Orson Welles now.

My thoughts:  I can predict that this post is going to be more rambling than usual.I’d like to say it’s because it will be hard for me to describe the greatness that is Citizen Kane, but in all reality it’s mostly because I have the flu. As an early Christmas present to all of my readers, here is a helpful tip for you: the flu shot is bullshit.

Citizen Kane has been a movie I have been wanting to watch for a long time because it’s on everyone’s ‘best of’ list. It’s also a movie I have dreaded watching because it’s on everyone’s ‘best of’ list. And seeing  as how Psycho turned out, I turned my expectations way down. Luckily, from the first few minutes I was hooked. I’m a fan of non-linear movies or really any film that defies traditional storytelling and this movie is the father of them all. It starts out with the death of the main character and the viewer only finds out who Kane was through flashbacks. I especially loved the newsreel scene at the beginning, announcing Kane’s death. It was so realistic PLUS it had my favorite old movie trope- spinning newspapers!!

I think the reason I loved this movie so much is how Charles Foster Kane is brought to life. Each person interviewed had a different perspective on Kane, some negative and some positive. I went from feeling sorry for Kane as he was taken away from his home and instead brought up by the bank to swooning over him as he refused to acknowledge his vast amounts of money, only wanting to help the poor. And then as he became even more wealthy, his personality began to change.  The pivotal scenes showcasing the segue from All-American Good Guy to Kind of a Jerk happened during his first marriage. At the beginning of the marriage, he and Emily can’t stay away from each other. Both are in good spirits and have high hopes for the future. But with each scene, all set at the breakfast table but with different years, the couples drift apart physically and emotionally. It was a powerful way to show the damage being done.

As Kane continued his rise to fame and money, he became even more eccentric- buying statues and other works of art and then doing nothing with them. It is during his second marriage that he decides to build an estate, Xanadu. He and his wife relocate here and it is at Xanadu that I could finally see what Kane had become. The scene where Susan is begging to not have to sing again is heartbreaking, as well as when she finally leaves him.  The estate itself is ornate and gorgeous but at the same time desolate and depressing. It was the perfect place to match what Kane had become.

I could write a whole post focusing on the special effects and cinematography of Citizen Kane but there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been analyzed a million times over. My two favorite aspects of what makes this such a remarkable movie are 1) the makeup effects turning Kane from his early 20s to old age. It was so hard to believe it was the same person at times and it wasn’t until after the movie that I found out that Welles was only in his early 20s himself when he made the movie. And then 2) I had no idea this was a thing, but I loved how the camera focused. This is called ‘deep focus’. I can’t really describe it but basically it wasn’t just an actor staring into the camera and saying his lines.

it's not a spoiler for a movie made in the 40s.

it’s not a spoiler for a movie made in the 40s.

Final review: 5/5. This movie lives up to all the hype and then some. It is truly a must see for anyone.

Up next: let’s go with Woman in the Dunes. If I keep putting that title here, I will eventually watch it.