Sunday, January 29, 2006

100 Films -- Days 19 through 23

This is just a quick post to catch up on where we're at on the list.

Tuesday: Roman Holiday
Wednesday: The Sweet Smell of Success
Thursday: The Last Picture Show

No movies on Friday or Saturday, so I'm three movies behind schedule. Today is Day 24, and I have some more titles at the ready. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2006

100 Films -- Days 17 and 18

Time for some European classics. On Sunday we watched The Bicycle Thief and tonight's movie was Breathless. These critically acclaimed films are milestones in cinema; the former the epitome of Italian Neorealism, the latter the beginning of the French New Wave.

I really liked both of these films. They are very European. Breathless is the sort of thing that I would think of if someone said the phrase "French film". They are very much of their time and place, yet also timeless and profound. Here I'm thinking particularly of Thief -- it doesn't conclude the way you would expect. Much like real life it just continues on. This is not a modern Hollywood movie where you know how it will turn out before the last reel. But that is OK, and there is a message there for those who look for it.

I'm very glad I finally got to see these movies, and both are highly recommended.

Still one day behind on viewings. I'll have to catch up this weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

100 Films -- Days 14 to through 16

Thursday night I watched The Philidelphia Story. I really like Jimmy Stewart, I like Cary Grant and even Katherine Hepburn, but this was my least-favorite movie on the list so far. It's a nice little screwball comedy, but it didn't do much for me.

Because I'm taking on this challenge, you can probably assume that I love movies. It should be no suprise, then, that I enjoy "movies about movies", or even movie-making scenes in unrelated movies -- a classic example is the brawl that spills over onto the Warner backlot in Blazing Saddles, or even the chase scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I have a few of these "movies about movies" on my list: 8 1/2, The Bad and the Beautiful, and the film we watched Friday night, Sunset Boulevard.

This is a well-deserved classic; great dialogue, great cinematography. It is both a love letter and hate mail to the Hollywood system. The casting really is perfect, considering the histories of Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim. It's a timeless, compelling story and beautiful to watch.

This evening we saw Amadeus. Finally, a movie that Mrs. Kaiju has seen and I haven't! This is another one that I somehow missed seeing, despite it winning all the major awards of 1984. A great film about jealousy and beauty; I found it interesting that it was more about Salieri than Mozart himself.

Still one day behind. I'll try to catch up tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

100 Films -- Days 11 through 13

No movie on Monday, instead we watched the Golden Globes (OK, we're award show junkies. If there is ever an Award Show Channel, we will be in trouble). I'm one day behind again.

Late Tuesday I watched D.O.A. It's a really great atmospheric flick, especially if you are a fan of film noir. It's not the typical noir, however. Much of it takes place in daylight! Admittedly I got a little lost with some of the twists, turns and names being thrown around. It's different, and well worth checking out.

Tonight we saw High Noon, which was excellent and much different than I expected. There are many different interpretations of the movie, but I think that it's powerful just taken at face value. It's a story about having the courage to do what's right, even if there is a much easier choice available, and this message still resonates today. Some of the dialogue could have been pulled from a modern movie, very timeless. Great camerawork and editing, too. There were a couple of scenes that I believe inspired Mel Brooks to parody in Blazing Saddles.

I suppose it's the mark of a good film to elicit strong emotion from the audience. In this movie, it was the indifferent townsfolk. They really made me mad!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

100 Films -- Day 10

I watched 12 Angry Men this afternoon. It is because of movies like this that I’m taking this viewing challenge. What a great film! And such great performances…since nearly the entire movie takes place in a jury room among 12 people, it’s very much like a stage play, with the sort of long-take acting that was more common in movies long ago. Outstanding.

A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere…

Later in the evening we watched Easy Rider. This is a movie that is so famous, so influential, I’m surprised I haven’t seen any part of it before. The first modern "road movie", there is a sense of disillusionment and danger hanging over the entire film – the beginning of the end of "The Sixties". This was also one of the first big hit films produced outside the conventional studio system.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

100 Films -- Days 7 through 9

"Attica! Attica!"

Thursday night's movie was Dog Day Afternoon. It's quite a little time capsule of the early '70s. I liked it, but a real downer ending, though.

Friday night was Lowell's game, so no film-viewing. I'm now one day behind schedule.

We usually rent from Hollywood Video, and I can tell by their Classics sections that I'll soon exhaust their supply. I drove over to Morris Movie Classics today in search of more films. I had not been there in...9, 10 years, maybe. I wasn't sure if they were still in business. They are still there, packed in tiny aisles from floor to ceiling. That's the good news. The bad news is that the entire collection is VHS. I can understand, because replacing them with DVDs would be an expensive proposition. The trouble is that I'm trying to watch these movies in as complete form as possible, and many VHS titles were not released in widescreen but in the fullscreen 1.33:1 TV format. For some movies, especially those released before the '50s, that shouldn't a problem. Which leads us to today's choice...

Tonight we watched It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. We really enjoyed this '30s screwball comedy. Some great dialogue, the kind that you don't hear in movies any more. It has a sentimental sweet side, no doubt due to direction by Frank Capra. And I didn't know that Gable's character was a big inspiration for Bugs Bunny.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

100 Films -- Day 6

Tonight's movie was The Big Heat, one of the most highly-regarded films noir. Mrs. Kaiju and I were blown away by how good this was. Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin in a Fritz Lang can you go wrong? And why didn't I see this years ago?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

100 Films -- Day 5

"I coulda been a contender...I coulda been somebody."

We watched On the Waterfront tonight. I'd only ever seen clips, especially the cab scene quoted above. What a great, powerful film.

On another note, Yog, Space Ameoba is due for release next week, along with (hopefully) Atragon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

100 Films -- Days 3 and 4, and Bond TV

I restarted the challenge on Sunday. I watched The Warriors (in between watching the conclusions of Diamonds Are Forever and Thunderball on AMC) yesterday and The Killing tonight. I'll have some commentary on these at some point.

Speaking of which...AMC is currently running a 24-hour-a-day Bond marathon. It's just too bad that AMC is a shell of what it used to be -- running commercials, full screen prints, and many movies that are hardly "classics". Oh well, at least Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies are really great. And I'll still tune in anywhere for Bond movies, even though I have all on DVD....There's something comfortably nostalgic about watching them on broadcast TV.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I think I'll postpone the 100 Films project until possibly Sunday. I watched Laura on New Year's Day and Stalag 17 on Monday, but I just haven't been in the mood to watch anything else this week.