Movie Tuesday: Footloose (1984)

My Thoughts: The original is lightyears better than the remake; 80’s movie are my favorite! Also, I relate to this movie to the point where it is almost unnerving.

Recommendation:  I think this movie is great.  It’s well-done, fun to watch, and it has a killer soundtrack.  I definitely recommend it!

Writing/Screenplay: I think a lot of people take this movie and see it as a group of teens sticking it to their parents and all moral authorities in their life, but that is not how I see this movie at all.  Part of the reason I think that the original is so much better than the remake is because it does a fantastic job of showing the destructive nature of two different moral extremes.  When Ariel dove too far to the left she developed a self-destructive (suicidal) nature and it ended with some punk guy who saw her as nothing more than his whore whaling on her.  On the other hand, when Ariel’s father (Rev. Shaw) dove too far to the right it ended with the burning of books and the town being so constricting that even his wife couldn’t breathe anymore.  In the end the two of them had to learn to communicate and meet somewhere in the middle.  That being said I do think that the writing was a little heavy handed in certain places.  They got a little sloppy when dealing with the destructiveness of conservatism in the end (particularly with the book burning scene).  I felt like the director was hitting me over the head when I watched that scene.  Now I do think that’s how I was supposed to feel, I think it was intended to really make the audience feel the frustration that Ariel and the other kids in town were feeling.  While I think that is good in theory, in execution it was not conducive to making the film a good film.  I was also a little sad because I don’t think there were a lot of great quote take-aways from this film (comment below with your favorite Footloose or just movie in general quote).  All in all, though I do think the idea behind this story is a really original one!
Score: 8

Acting: The acting in this movie was all around decent, but not exceptional in any way.  Kevin Bacon did well and I really enjoyed watching his cool/smooth (dare I even say righteous or totally tubular) performance. What can I say? I love the 80s; I truly feel I was born on the wrong decade!  Now I have to say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Lori Singers performance.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it was just off in some way.  Everyone did well, but I’m not shocked that there weren’t any Oscar nominees.
Score: 6.5

Cinematography:  I was pleasantly surprised by the cinematography in this film.  I had pretty low expectations, but they were exceeded beyond what I would have thought.  Don’t get me wrong the cinematography was not by any means extraordinary, but there were a few choices here and there that pushed it above average.  I like the opening scene where everyone is in church listening to the sermon and Rev. Shaw is preaching about how Jesus doesn’t want us to be bored with our responsibilities.  As this all is being said the camera is panning over a very bored and disinterested congregation.  Shots like this throughout the film added a certain level of interest throughout the film that I wasn’t expecting.  Well done Herbert Ross, Ric Waite, and Paul Hirsch.
Score: 7.5

Soundtrack: And now we get to the radest part of any 80s movie, the rokin’ soundtrack.  Seriously this movie soundtrack was fantastic! It was nominated for two Oscars.  The one thing I will say is that for as awesome as this soundtrack is, Ren had horrible taste in music.  I mean who in their right mind picks Men at Work and The Police for their favorite bands.  Yes, they have some good songs and they don’t totally suck, but common they’re no Bon Jovi.  Just saying!  That said, the soundtrack was really great.  I had no idea that so many classic 80s jams originated with this movie.  The music was by far and away my favorite part of this movie.
Score: 9

Overall Score: 31/40

Favorite Quotes:

Mr. Gurntz: “He was trying to teach *that* book down at the school.”
Mrs. Allyson: “Slaughterhouse-Five, isn’t that an awful name?”
Ren: “Yeah it’s a great book… Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s a classic.”
Mr. Gurntz: “Do you read much?”
Mrs. Allyson: “Maybe in another town, it’s a classic.”
Ren: “In *any* town.”

Willard: “You won’t get any dancing here, it’s illegal.”
Ren: “Jump back!”


Picture Found at imdb.com

Movie Tuesday: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

My Thoughts: First of all, I would like a sequel to Beauty and the Beast that follows Chip as a he grows up.  Can you imagine the conversations: “So Chip, that’s an unusual nickname.  How did you get it?” “Well I grew up as a teacup in an enchanted castle . . .”  Second of all, I know Disney gets a lot of flak, but the truth is they are such a big company for a reason.  When they put the time, effort, and money in, they are master movie makers and Beauty and the Beast is a master film.

Recommendation: If you like movies that are done well with good acting, music, etc. and you like to be transported back into your childhood you should watch this movie.

Writing/Screenplay:  This is such a creative tale, which is why it has been told again and again for centuries.  I liked the added elements of mystery in this film. The character of Agatha added a fascinatingly new facet.  I also liked how they spent a lot more time cultivating a relationship between Belle and the Beast while still emphasizing Belle’s need for freedom and loyalty to her father.  They also added a lot of historical aspects with Belle’s mother, etc.  I wish they could have spent more time on the Beast’s past.  It was touched on briefly, but I wanted more!  I love the new depth that was added to this old classic!
Score: 10

Acting/Performance: The cast in the film was incredible!  Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, Emma Thompson . . . need I say more (because I could)?  Now I know, Emma Watson has been getting all the hype for her performance and she did a great job, but the standouts to me were Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad.  Dan Stevens was wearing a giant green suit and walking on stilts for most of the movie and he was able to really dig into the many layers of the beasts’ character.  Also his song, Evermore, was my favorite; it gave me shivers!  Josh Gad and Luke Evans were just fantastic.  Gaston was cruel and manipulative.  Le-foue was the funny, innocent victim of Gaston’s manipulative nature.  The two of them had such a great chemistry.  They were funny and clever and they just absolutely shone!  All the actors and actresses gave wonderful performances (they are all incredibly experienced and talented) and it was just a pleasure to watch each and every one of them perform!  Now, there is one thing that annoyed me.  The movie is set in France and the only actor they made do a French accent was Ewan McGregor (as Lumiere).  Literally everyone else had a British accent and it was just a little strange to me, but I still love everything about this cast.
Score: 9.5

Cinematography: I don’t have a ton to say about the cinematography.  I think we were supposed to focus more on the special effects, etc. in this film.  The special affects were great, I really liked what they did with the beast.  I wonder if I might have been more impressed had I seen the movie in 3-D.   The one thing that I did really, really love was the theme of the rose that they emphasized throughout the film.  It was seen in the costumes, in the props, in the stairwells of the castle.  It was very cool to see that theme carried out in different places throughout the movie.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: The music in the movie was lovely.  Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, they all have beautiful singing voices.  The new songs: Evermore and Days in the Sun were my favorites, I can’t stop listening to them.  However, in terms of being a musical this film was not on par with films like The Sound of Music or The Phantom of the Opera or some such musical.  It breaks my heart to say, because I am a huge fan of Ewan McGregor, but I was not overly impressed with his and Audra McDonalds singing.  They were good, but not great and I was a little disappointed.
Score: 8.5

Overall Score: 36/40
 
Favorite Quotes:

“People say a lot of things in anger.  It’s our choice whether or not to listen.”
~Mrs. Potts

Gaston: “Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village and that makes her the best.”
Le-foue: “But she’s so well-read and you’re so . . . athletically inclined.”
Gaston: “Yes, but ever since the war I’ve felt like I’ve been missing something and she’s the only girl that give me that sense of . . .”
Le-foue: “Je ne sais quoi?”
Gaston: “I don’t know what that means.’

“Those are called books you third-rate musketeers!”
~Cogsworth


Image Found: imdb.com

Movie Tuesday: Gone With the Wind

My Thoughts: This is such a classic.  It’s not one of those movies that warms your heart; it’s one of those that makes you think.  It’s long, but rich with content.

 Recommendation: You have to watch this movie.  Everyone in the world needs to see this movie at least once.  It’s so worth the time commitment and then you can impress people by saying “like in Gone with The Wind.” Do yourself a favor . . . watch this amazing film ASAP!

 Writing/Screenplay: This is a hard one because this movie is based on a novel by Margaret Mitchell.  I have read the book, and obviously watched the movie.  The movie did a good job of keeping true to the original story.  However, there are a few important things that the movie excluded.  One, in the book, Scarlett has one child with each of her 3 husbands.  In the movie she only has a child with Rhett.  However, in the book having children is an important part of why she doesn’t want to keep getting married after she has money; she doesn’t like children.  Melanie is more of a mother to Scarlett’s’ children than Scarlett is, especially since Melanie only has one baby.  Also the lumber mill is a much bigger part of the story in the book.  Mitchell spends more time on Scarlett’s treatment of her employees etc. all of that has an effect on her relationship with Ashley.  However, the movie really grasps the idea of the passing of the Old south which is the most important thing.  Also the screen writing is wonderful and clear which is important in such am intricate story.  All and all the story of Scarlett O’Hara is one of the most powerful, interesting stories that have ever been told. It is rich with civil war history and provokes thought about the serious issues of the time.
Score: 10

Acting: This movie has an incredible cast.  Hattie McDaniel won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of Scarlett’s Mammy.  Vivien Leigh, who was in almost every scene of this 4-hour film, also won an Oscar for her portrayal of the cunning Scarlett.  There was a lot of competition for this role, but I can’t imagine anyone pulling it of better than Leigh.  As wonderful as McDaniel and Leigh were, my two favorite performances came from actors who did not win Oscars.  Olivia de Havilland, who is one of my favorite actresses ever, did an excellent job as Melanie.  Her character was gentle and sweet, but also incredibly strong and clever.  However, the backbone of this film was absolutely Clark Gable in the role of Rhett Butler.  I can’t believe he did not win an Oscar for this amazing performance.  You’ve heard about how the creators of Iron Man wanted a hero that was loathsome, but that the audience loved and was rooting for.  Well, Rhett Butler is the original Iron Man.  I cannot say enough good things about Gable’s performance, it was absolutely phenomenal!  The one performance that I was not thrilled with was Leslie Howards portrayal of Ashley.  It was melodramatic and overdone.  Every time I watch the scene where Scarlett tries to convince him to run away with her and he kisses her, I cringe at Howard’s dramatic performance.  Still this movie had an excellent core group of actors and actresses who did a fantastic job.
Score: 9

Cinematography: Another well-deserved Oscar was one in this category.  The colors of this film are breath-taking; especially for a movie made in 1939!  There are also just some excellent shots that send shivers down your spine they are so powerful.  The one that stood out to me the most was when Scarlett was helping at the hospital.  She had just witnessed an amputation and run screaming out yelling about how she couldn’t take anymore and she wouldn’t watch anymore people die.  She stopped in the doorway of the church, where the hospital is located and above her head on the door is written, “Peace Be Within Thy Walls.” What a powerful and clever shot!  I appreciated the cinemograph choices made in this film.
Score: 9

Soundtrack: The music in the film did its job well.  It moved the audience in the right way at the right time.  Sometimes it made me feel happy and romantic at others it created tension and fear.  The score was beautiful and well-chosen.  However, there was nothing risky about the choice made.  It was very typical at the time to use orchestra music for a film score. While the music was moving and beautifully played the technique itself was very cut and dried.
Score: 8

Overall Score: 36/40

Favorite Quotes:

“What do you think becomes of people when their civilization breaks up? Those who have brains and courage come through all right.  Those that haven’t are winnowed out.”

“You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but he’s terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

Scarlett: “I only know that I love you.”
Rhett: “That’s your misfortune.”
Scarlett: “Rhett . . . Rhett where shall I go?  What shall I do?
Rhett: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Movie Tuesdays: The Producers (1967)

My Thoughts: I thought this movie was strange and confusing.  It was intended to be funny, but it just ended up being stupid. It’s portrayal of women as mere sexual objects was insulting.  All and all I felt extremely uncomfortable the entire time I was watching this movie.  I’m glad it’s over now!
 
Recommendation: I did not really like this movie.  I found it dull.  The humor was over-the-top and rather insulting.  I would not recommend it.

Writing/Screenplay: This movie won an Oscar for best writing, story, and screenplay.  I suppose, if it was a bad year for movies, I can see how that happened.  I actually think the plot was really interesting and original, it could have been a really great funny movie, but the humor was really dirty.  There was very little wit in this movie.  Worst of all the movie was predictable!  This predictably is part of what made it confusing because as a viewer you keep waiting for the plot twist, but it never really comes.  It was just a very poor execution of what could have been a really original story.
Score: 5

Acting: The acting in this movie was decent. Some of the characters, like Frank Liebkind (portrayed by Kenneth Mars), were a little over the top.  There was some unnecessary screaming of lines in an attempt to make them funny, but overall the actors portrayed their characters well.   Zero Mostel succeed in making the character of Max Bialystock into a cunning cheat, but also someone that a dunce like Bloom would look up to.  Gene Wilder, as Bloom, stood out above everyone else in this film; he was absolutely the saving grace of this movie.  This is a very odd film for a character to have a coming of age story in, but that is what Bloom’s character does and only Gene Wilder could pull that off.  He definitely earned his Oscar nomination for best actor in a supporting role.
Score: 7

Cinematography: There was nothing exceptionally special about the cinematography in this film.  The best shot was towards the beginning when Bloom decides to go along with Bailystocks scheme.  They are in front of the Lincoln Center and all the fountains soar at once and Bloom starts dancing on the ledge with water flying around him.  It was a cool shot, but also the only one that stood out in anyway throughput the whole film.
Score: 7.5

Soundtrack: The music in this film was actually pretty good.  The singing was exceptional and some of the songs were funny.  The song Love Power sung by Dick Shawn was pretty funny.  Also the background music was well chosen and placed strategically in the appropriate scenes.  This was done well.
Score: 7.5

Overall Score:  27/40

Movie Tuesday: Hello, Dolly!

My Thoughts: Oh, this is a beautiful movie.  It’s one of those that takes you into a different time, a different world.  When you watch a movie like this life is simpler, lighter, and filled with song.

Recommendation: You absolutely have to watch this film; you just have too.  Miss Dolly Levi won’t allow you not to and once you watch the movie you’ll understand that it is ALWAYS wiser to listen to Miss Levi.

Screenplay/Music: This story is cute and funny, but not groundbreaking in any way.  It’s the classic musical story of lonely souls seeking love and adventure.  Nonetheless the movie is very amusing and it is wrought with witty repartee.  I loved the characters Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder and their story is very interesting and just fun to watch.  The side plots are a little less impressive.  The character of Barnaby and Cornelius are all right; they are the sort of “jesters” of the film and while that is fine, I found them a little dumb and therefore somewhat annoying.  The kind of humor that they offered was very basic and not my taste, whereas the humor offered by Dolly and Horace was much cleverer and more enjoyable.  Honestly though, movies like this are not about the story.  The story merely provides a canvas for the singing and dancing; which in this film is top notch.  All and all this movie was very much a “feel-good” film with a classic script and wonderful music.

Score: 8/10

Acting/Performance: Barbra Streisand (Dolly Levi), who often gets a lot of flak, has undeniable musical and acting ability.  Her ability really shines in this film.  In the beginning her performance as the chatty Dolly did feel a little awkward, but as the movie progressed she really seemed to grow into the part.  In the end I think she gave a stellar performance and she is defiantly the musical talent in the film.  Walter Matthau gave a great performance as Horace, making the character complex: both likeable and unlikable.  His singing on the other hand wasn’t exactly pretty, it was fine, but could have been better.  All and all I would still say he did well. Marianne McAndrew also did well in the role of Irene.  Her singing was enjoyable and her acting was decent.  Danny Lockin, E.J. Peaker, and Michael Crawford as Barnaby, Minnie and Cornelius all left something to be desired in their performances.  Their characters were over the top with squeaky voices and awkward movements.  I get that they were supposed to be young, unsure, and naïve, but they were too awkward and naïve.  In the end they made the characters annoying.  Their singing was also not the best.  Since all the music was prerecorded some of the sound was off and the actors facial expressions did not always match their vocal expressions.  However, all the actors did well with the dancing.  In fact ,I would say that Barbara Streisand was the worst dancer and she still did just fine; no less than Gene Kelly would expect.

Score: 7/10

Cinematography: The cinematography in this movie was nothing special.  It was the classic musical cinematography.  Every shot was wide enough for all the dance sequences and everything fit very prettily and neatly on screen.  There was no variety of angles, etc. in the shots, no significant mise-en-scene.  Everything was very cut and dried, which is fine, just not very interesting.

Score 7/10

Soundtrack: Now here is something to rave about! The soundtrack from this film is fantastic.  True some of the actors were not the best singers, but the songs were still incredible.  Also a shout out to the band who did all the instrumental accompaniment . . . marvelous.  There was such a variety many of the songs were very fun and upbeat, something to dance to.  Some of the songs were more somber.  All of the songs were beautiful.  I only wish some of the actors had had more vocal training.

Score 9/10

Overall Score: 31/40

Favorite Quotes: 
“90% of the people in this world are fools and the rest of us are in danger of contamination.”

“There comes a time when you have to decide if you want to be a fool among fools or a fool alone.”

Horace: “You are an impractical 7 foot tall nincompoop.”
Ambrose: “That’s an insult.”
Horace: “All the facts about you are insults.”

Movie Tuesday: The Godfather Part II

My thoughts:  I really liked this movie. It did an excellent job of harkening back to The Godfather Part I while still being its own original film and telling its own story.

Recommendation: Should you watch this movie . . .  only if you want to live a full and happy life.  Yes, I highly recommend this film.  It is long, so it requires commitment, but it is totally worth it!  Also do not watch it without first watching The Godfather Part I or else there will be severe damage to the space-time continuum and the world as we know it will end and it will be all your fault; just kidding.  But seriously watch The Godfather movies in order.

Story/Screenplay (10 points possible): The story of the Corleone family as told in The Godfather movie trilogy is one of the most intricate, intriguing and compelling stories of all time.  It shows the persistent human need for dominance and the various consequences of achieving that goal, while emphasizing the idea that that lust for power can never be truly satisfied.  I loved that this movie gave background to prominent characters from the first film (*ahem* Vito).  Giving these characters history made them seem more real which made the story all the more impactful.  All that said, this film spent too much time focusing on the “family business.” If it had spent less time on Michael’s “business” transactions and more time on the things going on in Michael’s family, Kate’s decisions in the end would have made more sense to the audience and would not have felt so random and abrupt.  She clearly had this whole journey going on during the time the audience was watching Michael do “business.” At the beginning she loved Michael and at the end she loathed him.  The audience doesn’t get to see any of that transition from love to loath and as a result the end of the film felt choppy and incomplete.  Also, that scene where she tells Michael about the abortion should have been one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie, but they just tried too hard and it was my least favorite scene.  There was too much dialogue. Michael’s not an idiot, Kate didn’t need to tell him 6 times that it was an abortion nor did she need to define abortion twice.  Michael’s not dumb, the audience is not dumb.  I felt like the director was calling me an idiot with the melodramatic explanations of that scene.  That is the only criticism I have of this story, because let’s be real, it’s an amazing and well-written story!
Score: 9

 Acting (10 points possible): Robert Duvall (Tom Hagan) delivered his usual fabulous performance making the character of Tom feel both trustworthy and mysterious. By the end, he had the audience feeling like Tom was starting to get caught up in the power struggle, but at the same time the audience doesn’t want to believe it because Tom is . . . Tom.  Al Pacino did a great job of giving us a very sinister Michael.  The character of Michael did not require as much depth in this film as in the first film, because there is no transition from good to bad.  He is all bad and Al Pacino makes us feel Michael’s pure evil!  Robert De Niro was an amazing Vito (he gets a 12 out of 10).  His performance was original and completely his own, but still complimentary to Marlon Brando’s performance in the first film.  He had big shoes to fill but he stepped up to the task perfectly! All and all the cast was phenomenal.  The one person that did not live up to the standards set by the first film was Diana Keaton in the role of Kate.  This film requires a lot of sinister seriousness and Kate’s character was just a little too dramatic.  One does not screech and babble in the presence of Michael Corleone; it simply isn’t done.  Kate ought to know that to get something from Michael you do one of two things: ask “with respect” or try to undermine him and go behind his back.   Kate doesn’t do either of these things, she throws a melodramatic fit and then expects Michael to do what she tells him.  Keaton’s performance was over-the-top making Kate’s character unrealistic.  Luckily she was backed by the rest of an amazingly strong cast, so her subpar performance didn’t completely ruin the film.
Score: 8.5

Cinematography (10 points possible): Well Francis Ford Coppola is a genius.  There are little symbolic cinemograph secrets in every scene.  My favorite was the scene with Michael, Hyman Roth, and the birthday cake.  Someone (not me, someone who knows more about cinematography) could write a book about the depth of that scene.  Suffice it to say, the cake was a wonderful and telling symbol of some of the things happening throughout the movie.  Coppola is a master of using mise-en-scene to tell a story.  He just leaves these wonderful little nuggets throughout the film for the audience to find that add so much more depth and meaning to the movie; it’s magnificent. No criticisms here.
Score: 10

Soundtrack (10 points possible): There was not a lot of music in the film, which actually gave a wonderful sense of unease.  The persistent silence in many scenes kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was lurking around the corner.  The music that was used was intentional and wonderful. My only criticism is that there was a lot of fuzz in the background that sometimes made the dialogue hard to hear.  Whether that was an intentional choice or a result of outdated sound equipment, it was annoying and detracted from certain parts of the film.
Score: 7.5

Overall Score: 35/40

Movie Tuesdays Announcement

Hello All,

I’m starting something new and I am very excited about it.  At least during the summer months I will be doing movie reviews (hopefully) every Tuesday.  Today I am giving an introduction as to the standards of the review and next week you can read all my thoughts on The Godfather Part II. Here’s how the reviews are gonna go:

Each review will begin with my thoughts on the film and whether or not I would recommend it.  These personal opinions of mine will not go into the calculation of the overall score, because my opinion does not make a film good nor does it make one bad. The film will be given a score out of 40.  This score will be based on more objective categories.  These are: Story/Screenplay, Acting, Cinematography, and Soundtrack.  The film will be given a score out of 10 in each of these categories.  These points will then be added up to form the final score.  As I “grade” each film I will try to be as objective as possible looking at the goal of the film and it’s success in achieving that goal.

I love movies, I always have.  This semester I took a cinema class (which obviously makes me a film expert) and I loved it.  This is a project that I am really excited about and truly love, so I want to do it well.  Things may change as I go and I will keep you posted; it’s all part of the learning process. I have a particular passion for the old classics, so I will probably review a fair amount of those kind of films in the hopes of infecting some of you youngsters (literally just people from my own generation; I’m 20) with this passion.  I will, however, try and do some newly released films as the opportunities present themselves.  We’ll see how the new match up against the old and visa versa.   So please, starting next Tuesday, come learn about film with me.