Monday, June 30, 2014

Wrapping it up: June

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. On to the movies of then...


United 93(2006): The fact that this was the earliest Best Director nominated film I had not seen proved to be one final push I needed to check this off my watch list and if I wasn't a fan of Greengrass' direction after Captain Phillips(2013) last year, I certainly am now. People usually call The Social Network(2010) a real 'Director's film' and while I love absolutely everything about TSN, if you ask me - I would point you to this one! And hey, Olivia Thirby, was that... you?

Mutiny on the Bounty(1935): When it comes to films based on real life events, I have special respect for those who dare to show things like they were rather than dramatizing them to land more punch.This film deserves that. They easily could have dramatized actually mutiny much more or cut aftermath of it. Charles Laughton deserves special mention for his amazing performance as Captain Bligh. But what I really want to know about it is this - How does a film win Best picture and nothing else?

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?(1962): Off course I had heard quite a lot about rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis which gave all the more dimensions to this film and knew few things about Crawford because of some references to Mommie Dearest(1981) but this is a first movie I have seen her in. As good as she is in this, it was all about Bette Davis though. I have seen her in few other films and she is always good but here she is crazy good. And I never saw final reveal coming which adds so much to whole story.

Atlantic City(1980): So I had never seen a Louis Malle film before in my life and then I saw two in a week. This was first of the two. Burt Lancaster, in whichever role and in whichever film I have seen him in, has always stolen a film for me. Once again, he was as clinical as ever though this time Susan Sarandon was able to match him. I always forget how good an actress she is until I see her in one.

Au revoir, les enfants(1987): Second of Malle double feature and this month's Blind Spot. Malle's treatment of this film is not what you might expect from a movie on such topic. We are more used to sensory overloads that attack you from every possible angle and make you cry bucketful. Malle underplays every single scene in this film and still makes it equally devastating by the end. And very young Irene Jacob pops up which is never a bad thing. More here.

Bloody Sunday(2002): Josh at The Cinematic Spectacle gets all the credit for this one though me having seen United 93 this month and having loved it played a part in it as well. I was quite eager to get to another of Greengrass' work and his post gave me the right push. I feel like I am doing a disservice to many fantastic actors in Greengrass' films because they do a great job of portraying his vision with authenticity but once again, I think it is his direction that shines the most here.

25th Hour(2002): So Spike Lee can make a movie without bringing racial elements into it after all. I know there is Inside Man(2006) as well and then last year's Oldboy(2013) but this one is far better than either of them. In fact, this might be my favourite of his though I have hardly seen about 5. Also, I never knew David Benioff had any sort of writing career before GoT. I say this because screenplay was one of the stronger suits of this film. And I can not not mention Barry Pepper. He was a beast!

The Queen(2006): As I have explained my situation with getting through the rest of Best Picture winners before, I have also shortlisted 5 films that were nominated for Best Picture in last 15 years that I haven't seen. For some reason, getting through this list isn't much different and I thank God, rather I thank Helen Mirren, for not making this any worse. She was absolutely exquisite in that role though I was rather surprised by the time period Frears chose to highlight Queen Elizabeth.

Blazing Saddles(1974): When I was 9, I watched certain western comedy which, by now, I only remember bits and pieces of. For the past few years, I have been trying to figure out which one was it and my search for it brought me to this one this month. Well, it wasn't the one I was looking for but at least it was a good western comedy. Last 15 minutes of it were a bit too much for me but that is the risk you have to take with comedies. You never know what will stick. And I really enjoyed rest of it to hold any serious grudge against it.

Key Largo(1948): I have been holding this one off for far too long. John Huston at the helm, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with him. In addition, Edward G. Robinson whom, I will be honest, I have not seen except in Double Indemnity(1944). What's not to like? It is a John Huston film all right and all the key players are good at their jobs but it was Edward G. Robinson who took the cake. I loved his viciousness of manner and calmness of demeanor and effortless transition from one to another.

The Grand Budapest Hotel(2014): It was like some strange mixture of live action and stop motion which probably would have looked much better if it was either of the two all the way through. It was all pretty and sweet and cute, even most of the cameos were really good but that does get old after a while and it lacked any foundation to fall back on. So even at 100 minutes of its length, it already was rather repetitive, laughable and even inconsequential. If not for consistent acting throughout, this would have been insufferable.

The Age of Innocence(1993): I never expected Martin Scorsese to make a movie like this but I guess not only did he make it, he did what seems quite out of his wheelhouse quite well must be one of the reasons he is Martin Scorsese. Though I wish I had more good things to say about this film. I liked it reasonably enough but for no fault of its own, I can not say I loved it. It's just that I am getting rather tired of period pieces, especially of upper class and their uptight manners and ways.

Mrs. Miniver(1942): I did not love it but felt it was decent enough. My only problem was it never looked like Miniver family had much at stake. Even though there is a war going on and they were involved with it in a way, it was rather casual. It was never brought into their house; up until last half hour or so that is which certainly up the ante. All in all, I am glad to have nother one of the list and thankfully, it wasn't much of a task. Oh, and, did I give you the count? This one is 73rd. 14 more to go now.

Woman of the Year(1942): Except for the fact that this is a story from a woman's point of view where we must have had multiple similar stories from a man's POV, I fail to see any novelty in this film. I don't really have much criticism to offer, except that it was rather run of the mill story, but I don't have many praises for it either. Real highpoint for it was Hepburn butchering Tracy's kitchen in the last scene. I kept expecting him to break into some sort of moral lecture. Is it my fault that he does so in every film I have seen him in?

Robocop(2014): There was about half an hour just before the end that made it somewhat worth it because otherwise only word that kept coming to my mind for the rest of it was - bloated. Direction and script will have to bear major blame for it as it felt like everyone started off thinking we are going to make a great film but had no idea how. I mean, for all it's worth, it was released in February aka Studio Dumpster and it even doesn't know that. Who takes itself that seriously in February?

Total Count: 15. 15 First Time Watches and 0 Re-watch .

2014 YTD Count
Total Count: 102. 95 First Time Watches and 7 Re-watches.

Once again, not the most productive month even by my current low standards but I certainly saw few good ones. Actually, I don't think I have had a 4 and 1/2 starred film in few months. There were couple of surprises as well. Some I have been keeping for too long that paid off like 25th Hour and United 93 and some I had no idea and turned out to be quite awesome like Black Sunday. All in all, I am quite satisfied at this lot even though it is a short haul.

So, how was your month? Did you see anything interesting? What do you think of the movies I saw? Any favorites?


  1. Glad you liked United 93... what visceral direction from Greengrass there. And yep, that's Olivia Thirby all right! She's really the only one of that cast of unknowns to break out. The pilot (Khalid Abdalla) has been a few things too though.

    1. Absolutely loved it! It is a directorial marvel.

      By pilot you mean one of the terrorists, right? Because his face did seem familiar though I wasn't able to place my finger on where. :(

  2. 25th Hour (2002) is up there with my favorite Spike Lee films, and favorite Edward Norton performances. Apparently the director is quietly referencing 9/11 in the film. I might even prefer it to Do The Right Thing(which is often talked of as Lee's best work) Have you seen Malcolm X (1992)? I recently rated it 9/10.

    Saw Key Largo this year. I too liked the performances. The story is quite minimalist and could almost go as a theatre production, taking places in the hotel lobby. I liked the fun, snappy dialogue, and the ominous storm looming in the background gave it tension.

    1. I saw DTRT last month and while I liked it as well for various reasons, I think I like 25th Hour more. Yes, I have seen Malcolm X and I like that too but 25th Hour I can rate as his best of what I have seen.

      You are right about Key Largo. And its '40s film. You kinda expect those dialogues to crack a whip. They were really good at that then.


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