#389- Chimes at Midnight

Quick recap: Prince Hal loves his good buddy Falstaff until it’s time to become king and then he completely breaks off the friendship.

Fun (?) fact: Orson Welles had to actually slim down for the role of Falstaff.

Thoughts and observations:

Shakespearian language is beautiful, I suppose, except that I only understood about 10% of the movie. Maybe 15% if I’m feeling generous. To make matters worse, there wasn’t a subtitles option so I had to listen carefully like some commoner. About halfway through the movie I decided to stop trying to pay attention to what was said and instead treat Chimes at Midnight as if it were a silent film or a film in another language. And it worked, for the most part. I read the synopsis afterward, quite proud of myself for getting the gist of the movie.

But only getting the gist of a movie does not a good movie make. Was it well acted? Sure! Did the music set the tone? Definitely! Was the setting appropriate for the plot? Of course. But I just don’t see the point of ANOTHER film based on Shakespeare. This movie was made in 1965, coming right after several versions of Shakespeare plays and right before many, many more. Now, I’m a bit biased in this regard because literally the only version I have every enjoyed is Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Minus the battle scene, which I’m still not entirely sure who was fighting who, making a film version didn’t add to the play at all. Same costumes as I’m accustomed to, same stale language, same pompous acting. And from the research I did (which was very little) really the only thing people loved was how fat Orson Welles was. If that’s the only criteria here, then this movie is a MASTERPIECE. I have no idea how Welles was able to move around and didn’t just keel over the second the director yelled, ‘cut!’. He actually went on to live another 20 years, which I’m more impressed about than anything else I learned from this movie.

 

Watchability score: 2/5. There are plenty of other films to watch if you want to see kings doing king things.

Up next: The Nutty Professor

#387- Breathless

Quick recap: After randomly killing a police office, Michel tries to convince a recent hook up to escape to Italy with him.

Se

I am equally in love with both Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo

Fun (?) fact: There’s a rumor that the movie was scriptless but that’s not entirely true. Godard wanted a spontaneous feel so he fed lines to the actors instead of having them memorize their own parts.

Thoughts and observations:

I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at understanding Godard’s films or it’s because I’ve had no social contact for the last three weeks because of quarantine, but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. I suspect the latter. What excited me so much about Breathless wasn’t the random philosophical discussions but instead seeing all the people! As 1930s films need a spinning newspaper, French movies always need a coffee shop scene and this one had me at the edge of my seat. No one had to keep 6 feet apart and they could linger at their table for as long as they wanted.

Jean Seberg, as Patricia, had my attention from the very beginning when she was walking down the street selling newspapers. Seeing as how I’m now in sweatpants 90% of the time, I loved living vicariously through her as changed into outfit after outfit for no apparent reason. I’d forgotten about dressing up and going out somewhere. And more than that, I loved how complicated her love for Michel was. When they first met up she was confused, saying that they only hooked up a few times so didn’t understand why he wanted her to flee to Rome with him so badly. But then in the next scene she insinuates that she is pregnant with his child. The way she looked at him sometimes was pure love but by the end of the film she had turned him into police. I wanted the best for her the entire time but I didn’t know what the ‘best’ was.

And as for Michel, I had no idea how to feel about him at all. On one hand he killed a cop and stole several cars. But on the other hand, look at him:

I rest my case

He was the very definition of toxic and there would be no way he would actually make it out of the country but I still would’ve taken my chances.

Watchability score: 4/5. I’m as surprised as you!

Up next: M

#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

 

 

#382- Gaav (The Cow)

Quick recap: Man loves cow. Cow dies. Village tries to cover it up. Man becomes cow.

That’s a pretty sweet looking cow, TBH

Fun (?) fact: The Ayatollah Khomeini loved this movie so much he allowed the film industry to keep going after the Iranian Revolution.

and I bet he loved The Simpsons just as much!

Thoughts and observations: 

Before I get into this review, it is necessary to mention there is a podcast called The Beef and Dairy Network and it is WONDERFUL. It’s a parallel world where cows are king and everyone is obsessed to some degree with either the animal or eating the animal. It was so difficult to watch this movie straightforward without thinking of the various Beef and Dairy Network plotlines about various people being in relationships with cows. Go listen to an episode and you’ll either be hooked or immediately become a vegan.

I didn’t have trouble understanding why this guy loved his cow so much. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s a very good looking animal. And second, the entire village depended on milk from this cow so it makes sense to treat her like royalty. What I don’t understand is how we go from point A (grief over a loved one) to point B (becoming a cow).

The village is a remote one so Masht Hassan was right to immediately call BS when his friends told him his cow had simply run off and would be back shortly. If anything, the cover up only hastened Hassan’s descent into madness even quicker than if he had just processed the death. It really confused me as to what was the message of this movie. Was it:

  • grief is grief, no matter what and humans need time to process
  • Your friends know your level of craziness and they are good to keep that in mind when something happens
  • At the end of the day, it was just a cow so don’t get so caught up on worldly possessions

or, my favorite:

  • cows and the men who love them

Because I really think that’s the theme the director is going for here. I watched a very quick snippet of some behind the scenes footage and the director discussed how the cow symbolized fertility. Which is cool and all, except for the fact that Hassan had a wife so he could’ve just pampered her instead. I can’t really say I don’t get the relationship seeing as how I have 4 cats and they are spoiled rotten. Still, I can only hope that if one of them passes on, my family doesn’t try to cover it up so that I go insane and become a cat.

Final review: 3/5.

Up next: Terra em Transe