Archive for June, 2006

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Papillion

June 26, 2006

I like to watch movies with other people because I like to be able to discuss the movie afterwards.  However, since Eric is the only person I know, and he doesn't like movies much (he's very picky) I don't often get a chance to do that.  But lucky for me he likes Papillion so we were able to watch it together.

For a movie about prison escapes there really wasn't a whole lot of detailed planning or in genious plotting.  It's just a man who runs whenever possible.  Kind of silly he always tried to get a boat, since that basically tipped people off that he was going to run and wasted his money.  He could have stolen a boat, or just walked.  But I don't think they were trying to portray him as a bright man, just a very determined one.

I'm always curious about how filmmakers portray the passage of time in films.  Some use the cheesey montage-with-music, some just fade out and fade in later with the actor appearing older, and some use a "7 years later" undertitle or something cheap like that.  But Papillion did a really, really good job of making it appear that 2 years go by in solitary confinement, and I don't even know how they did it so good.  If we ever buy the film I think I'll watch the scene again to see how they did it, but I think the dream sequences help for a disorientating sense of time passage.  Certainly the make-up on Steve McQueen was expertly done as well, but to see him age so fast without the scenes of madness coming on would not have worked.  Anyhow, I need to research this more.

By the end, when he is on Devil's Island with his friend Dega, I kept thinking "Wow, that's not such a bad place".  He's got a house, a garden, stuff to eat and drink, a friend to spend time with, no guards, no abuse, and a beautiful view of the ocean.  Why on earth would he risk his life trying to escape when life on the outside would probably not even be as good.  Maybe it's kind of like what I have, the need to move without really knowing if where I'm going is going to be better or not, but just being unsatisfied with where I am.  And I think about how Buddha lived under a bohdi tree on bananas and rice and most people think his life probably sucked, but he was perfectly content.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

June 22, 2006

Like most books into movies, this movie doesn't work as a movie.  It has no rhythm, no flow, and is way too long.  First you have these little kids running around doing nothing, and I think the little girl was totally unbelievable as a 6 year old.  Then you have a courtroom scene where Atticus makes his case and loses anyway, but gets the respect of the black people and his children.  Then the children get attacked and Boo saves them.  I don't even know if there was a plot, because there's nothing that really ties all the pieces together.  I suppose it could be some sort of "coming of age" story except the kid is only 6 and I don't think she's really changed that much from the beginning to the end.

The Atticus character was pretty one-sided.  Almost like some sort of Jesus character that's all perfect and wise, and I suppose some could say it's how Scout (the narrator) saw her father.  But it doesn't make for dynamic character study or for a good movie.

The beginning reminded me a bit of Goonies.  If they would have thrown in some pirate treasure this could have been an interesting and fun movie.  Or maybe some sort of river-rafting chase from Abraham Lincoln. 

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The Apartment

June 8, 2006

This is the 1960 film with Jack Lemmon.  I didn't really know much about the film before seeing it, and I'm still not sure whether it's supposed to be a comedy or drama.  The office people make me think it's a comedy, because they were all one-sided stereotypes and characatures, not one having any sort of "real" personality".  But then the serious issues with the affair, the suicide attempt and the divorce make me think it's probably a drama.  In mixing the two I think it fails at both.

The premise was too unbelievable for me to even acknowledge the story.  A guy passes around his apartment key to his bosses so they can use his apartment for sex, and he thinks he's going to move up in the business because of it.  First off, it's pretty disgusting to think about letting other people, much less many other people have sex in your bed.  For another thing, I think having a hotel room would be much more sanitary and discreet than having someone in your office know you're sleeping around with lots of other women.  He could have easily blackmailed all the guys who had used his apartment.

The love story part of it just sort of fell together at the last minute and didn't seem believable.  It was a very sudden ending, and not satisfying at all.  I can't understand why this movie is rated so highly.

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

June 8, 2006

This movie probably would have made a good porn.  A little bit of buttsecks, a little bit of 3-way with DP and some Bolivian sheepherders thrown in for variety.  It was disappointing how un-raunchy a movie with a whorehouse in it could be.  I suppose it could be considered a family film except for the people shooting each other to death.

I was a little bit thrown as to the theme and direction of this movie.  First it seemed like old bandits making their comeback after a long vacation, reuniting the old gang and owning the west.  Then it seemed like some sort of sick love story with 2 guys sharing a lonely schoolmarm.  Then some long, drawnout chase scene which did have suprisingly good tension considering it's just a few guys out in the wilderness, and at times they're on foot just scrambling up rocks.  Then there's a segway to New York, which I would have been curious to see in other than just still pictures, and finally the last chapter in Bolivia.  First they rob banks, then they try to play it straight, then they kill the bandits and become robbers again?  I dunno but it seems to me you'd try to play it straight in an area where you weren't already wanted men. 

The soundtrack, or lack thereof, was very distracting.  In the middle of an old west film they start playing "Raindrops keep falling on my head…" and later in the segway some "dum dum dee dee dee daaah" crap.  An instrumental score, or something using ambient noises would have been much more appropriate.

So I'm not exactly sure what this film has besides a number of memorable quotes and almost innappropriate chemistry between the lead characters. 

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Network

June 6, 2006

There are a few really cool scenes in this movie, the best of which is in the boardroom when the network president is talking to Howard Beels or however you spell his name.  The lighting, the camera angles, and the acting were all superb.  When the president starts raining hellfire and damnation it's totally unexpected and a refreshing scene in a dull movie universe.  I was really impressed with the reaction from Howard as well, watching the "face of god".  It was just a great scene.

However, the rest of the sepia and blue world seemed dull and preachy to me.  "TV is bad, TV rots your soul, TV makes you stupid"… well I heard enough of that from my parents but I still don't believe it's true.  TV can be a medium for art and music and education.  Sure if all you watch on TV is trash, that's all you'll ever get out of it.  But like movies, you can have the big summer blockbuster popcorn movies and you can have the indie art films- it's all in what you make or what you watch.

There is nothing inherently evil about TV, and it's still discovering itself really.  The shows people watched in the 50s were a lot different than those of the 70s or 80s, and although people say reality TV is ruining television, I think it's just a stretch in a different direction.  Who knows what the future brings for TV and programming but I'm optimistic here, I think it will be better as time goes on.