Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Misery of Life, in Four Different Languages

And that can mean only one thing, I saw Babel. And a bunch of other films over the past two months that has got me up to 470 seen. Which is five short of my goal for the year, looking like I'll make my goal. But first to go over the movies seen recently.  

Babel (2006) -A drama that is taking place over the course of a few days on three different continents; North America, Africa and Asia.  Each of the different story lines have characters that are tied to one another, but it is not being told at the same time like Crash but out of sequence like Pulp Fiction.  It is well done and technically my second attempt to see it.  The first time was five years ago before I started the project, saw the first forty five minutes but stopped watching.  My wife was in intensive care and it was hitting a little too close to home for me.  Time has healed wounds and allowed me to enjoy this movie.  It is part of a trilogy, but I haven't seen the other two films Amores Perros and 21 Grams, so if I see them this might make better sense.

This now closes out 2006 and while it was a tough decision I will say that The Departed was the best film.  Although the Hong Kong original Infernal Affairs was a bit better, compared to the rest of the films it does just edge out the number two film.  And since Scorsese has been robbed almost a half dozen times, it is a life time achievement award like Cecil B DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952.  Second and only losing by a slim margin is Letters From Iwo Jima.  This is one of the finest films of the decade and should get more recognition that it currently does.  Babel falls into third safely, a good film but not best picture material.  The Queen is fourth carried by the great acting of Helen Mirren and Little Miss Sunshine was last and horrible and should have never been nominated.

Fanny (1961) - The musical that became a film adaption without the music.  Rather rare in this era, but the story of two young lovers who are separated and then when united their lives are changed since there is a child and they are no longer can be lovers.  A bit of a muddled romance story but fine acting from Charles Boyer.  Maurice Chevalier who is usually off the creepy-meter charts, toned it down for this one and wasn't too creepy only lusting after women who are adults.  Horst Buchholz and Leslie Caron play the young lovers and aren't too bad.  It's a nice family style film, something typical of this era.

And by seeing the 49th film of the decade it has now closed out 1961.  This isn't going to be easy but I will have to say West Side Story was the best picture.  I don't like musicals, but it is considered one of the best, even though it is campy and silly, still a great movie.  Judgement at Nuremberg is a solid second with the all-star cast and a good yet somewhat unrealistic historic drama.  Third place becomes a problem since the last three films are all good, but not good enough for the top two.  It's not easy but The Hustler will be third, The Guns of Navarone fourth and Fanny fifth.

Field Of Dreams (1989) - Why do popular films get nominated even though they aren't that good?  Oh wait, it was the 80's, very little was that good.  The feel good movie that thankfully today wouldn't get in the top ten of nominations, made at the right time.  If you are a baseball fan you can tolerate it.  A fantasy movie that makes you fell warm and fuzzy inside, which is good for a movie to do, but is it best picture material?  The academy though so and it was nominated.  Now I have seen it and one more movie off my list, not much more to talk about than that for this movie.

I haven't seen all of 1989, so the current front runner of Driving Miss Daisy is still in the lead and don't think it may be bumped.  Certainly not after this movie.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012) - The first of last year's nominated movies that I have seen and it was good.  It's a bit hard to follow at first but once it settles in it shows a great observation of the lives of the people living in the Louisiana bayou.  It's more from the observation of the main character a five year old child and her ill father as they deal with life and nature.  I have to say it was much better than I expected, although I didn't know much about it before I saw it which I think helped a lot.

This is the first film I've seen from 2012 and it was good.  So for now it is the front runner for the best picture of the year.

Elephant Man (1980) - The rather depressing biopic about the life of Joseph Merrick who was a seriously deformed man in 19th century England.  The film is not historically accurate, but it is very well acted.  John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins are great as well as the rest of the cast.  And being filmed in black and white adds so much to the film.  It makes it feel more realistic and helps you focus more on everything.  When a film like this is in color, so much effort would have to be put in makeup, scenery, clothing, etc.  But being black and white keeps you from being distracted with all that and allows you to watch the movie.  Very well done.  I'm surprised it's taken me this long to see it, but it was worth the wait.

Now I have seen four out of five films and this year is still the exception to the decade.  All the films nominated could have won any other year in the decade.  I am still troubled by Ordinary People being the best film, and it probably was, but Ragging Bull is so amazing.  I will wait to see the last film and then anguish over who was the best picture of this year.

True Grit (2010) - The great Coen brother's remake of the John Wayne western from over forty years ago.  Westerns in the late 60's and early 70's had lost their touch and became a bit softer and campier at times, the American westerns that is not to be confused with Spaghetti westerns from Italy.  This one was a bit grittier and darker than the original and in a way that makes it much better.  Fine acting and as always the Coen brothers do not disappoint.

 2010 is now closed out and the best film was Inception and it was robbed.  The academy does not give Sci-Fi movies their proper due.  Most are not worthy of being nominated, but the ones that are never get recognition.  And this is another example of that failure.  Second would be True Grit mainly because it is the Coen brothers and they make great films.  The Kings Speech, which did win best picture, is third.  It is a good movie but not a great movie.  Forth is Toy Story 3 which is a great movie for kids and adults.  I was really surprised how good it was.  Next is The Fighter, a film that in the old days when only five were nominated would get a nomination but wouldn't win.  The bottom half has The Social Network, a decent film that is more popular since everyone is on Facebook.  Seventh is The Kids Are All Right, only getting notice since it is involving a same sex couple.  You take that out of the equation and it wouldn't get nominated.  Black Swan which was a bad film but had good acting from Natalie Portman.  127 Hours is second to last, a very hard film to watch because it was a film that could of been shown in ten minutes.  Last is Winter's Bone, good acting from Jennifer Lawrence but again a film that was more of a waste of time.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) - The first Shakespeare movie adaption to be nominated for best picture.  All star cast including a very young Olivia de Havilland, rather young James Cagney, Dick Powell and others.  A rather confusing story, blame the author for that one, but one done very stylish.  So impressive that the Oscar for Cinematography was won by Hal Mohr as a write in vote, something that has never happened before or since.

And I have been dreading this, the first of two years that twelve films were nominated.  So here it goes.  The best picture was the one that won, Mutiny on the Bounty with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, great action film that earned best picture.  Second is The Lives of a Bengal Lancer to stick with the action theme, staring Gary Cooper, can't go wrong with that.  Third is another Charles Laughton film Ruggles of Red Gap, a very funny movie that doesn't get a lot of notice.  Fourth is Les Meserables although the French version from a year before was better.  Fifth is Captain Blood another great action film.  Sixth is David Copperfield, normally lower down for Dickens being so stuffy but Lionel Barrymore is in it so that helps a lot.  Bottom half would include Broadway Melody of 1936 as seventh helped by Jack Benny.  Eighth is A Midsummer Night's Dream, it is Shakespeare after all.  Ninth would be Top Hat, sappy, predicable, not much of a film, but Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire blah, blah, blah.  Tenth is Naughty Marietta not much of a film but mainly a showcase of Jeanette MacDonald who was a great singer.  Eleventh is The Informant, which won Oscars and is considered a classic, but I found it to be slow and boring, sorry just didn't like it.  And last the twelfth film is Alice Adams which is an annoying film about an obnoxious young woman who has no appreciation of what the real world is like.

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